Thursday, 30 December 2010

Men Who Hate Women

It would be impossible to reflect Film of 2010 without looking at the Swedish crime Millenium Trilogy: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. The nordic exports have given us perhaps one of the finest ever female anti-heroes in the form of cyber-punk hacker, Lisbeth Salander.
Noomi Rapace's performance throbs with angst as a young researcher caught amidst a whirlwind of hate crime and mysogonist brutality. Her jet-black attire, cold, dull stare and reclusive behaviour suggest their is more to her than meets the eye. Slowly the trilogy unravels to reveal an intricate story of defecting spies, corrupt officials, sex trafficking rings and investigative hacks. At the heart of this complex web is Lisbeth, with a past darker than the leather she dons.
The first part of the trilogy, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a story in its own right - having a complete story arc within the film. We see Lisbeth and our hero Mikael Blomkvist in search of a brutal woman-killer after being approached by the head of the secretive and wealthy Vanger clan, to investigate the disappearance of his niece years earlier. Most of the film takes place on the secluded island of Hedeby, where the Vanger clan reside in creepy isolation. As can be expected from a Swedish crime thriller, (see Mankell's Wallander adaptations), the film twists and turns and shows some extreme violence, the depravity of which is rarely seen in such mainstream cinema. After the first chapter, the viewer is easily reminded of the book's original translation, Men Who Hate Women, and despite the horrific sexual crimes, the violence serves its purpose within the trilogy, and this first film allows the viewers the privelege of witnessing the victim's spectacular revenge on a vicious rapist - never have I cheered such brutality.
Witnessing the comeuppance of disgusting men is something of a theme throughout the trilogy, and this feminist approach stems back to Larsson's teenage years, when he witnessed the gang-rape of a girl named Lisbeth whilst he stood helpless.
The second film, The Girl Who Played With Fire, touches loosely on the subject matter of sex-trafficking, as Eastern European girls are imported and exported as a sex commodity through this depiction of a crime-drenched Sweden, and those who abuse this market are high officials - cue Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander to pack some punches. Just as with the first and last features, there is little protection offered by any of the male characters, although in Fire we are given Paolo Roberto (playing himself) the boxer, who does try and 'save the girl' albeit in a manner a thousand miles from Hollywood's depiction of the unlikely hero. Roberto is instead pummelled in a boxing fight with freakish strongman Niedermann, and his saviour is hardly performed with Lisbeth's stoic ease. He is one of only two or three kind men throughout the story; and again we think to the original translation.
After suspending disbelief and moving past the Fleming-like events and characters of the second film, we are lauched into The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest just as the last film left off. The first act of the Millennium Trilogy is a 'whodunnit', the second is an 'action thriller', and the third is a 'courtroom drama'. This last film does exactly what is required for the series: tying off loose ends. The courtroom scenes are brilliant, executed so well as the now-recovered Lisbeth sits with her new mohican 'do' in total juxtaposition to the slimy and callous men opposite her. Each attack on Lisbeth's viability builds towards an all-destroying climax, as old men try to cover-up gross mistakes of the past, but when you have Mikael and Lisbeth hot on your heels, the past has a habit of catching up. This final act is superb, and the action scenes, although very good, are eclipsed by the court case; the anticipation is all-encompassing by two thirds of the way through.
The trilogy has truly delivered trumps, and now all eyes are on Sweden to deliver some more crime epics for us to sink our teeth into, who knows, maybe Wallander is yet to hit the big screens.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo  ♠♠♠♠♠
The Girl Who Played With Fire  ♠♠♠♠
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest ♠♠♠♠♠

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