Saturday, April 14, 2012

why does she have a dragon tattoo?

I know I have watched a good film when I can't stop thinking about it long after I've watched it. In this case, I have watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo yesterday afternoon. Several times I've opened this laptop to write something about it, and several times I did not start. It felt like my thoughts here, as written, would not capture how much I appreciated the film.

I started watching DVDs of Oscars-nominated films, among others, since vacation started. I haven't watched all of them yet, but I doubt I'd enjoy another more than I did with The Girl. I will try to give structure to this post of why I love the film because now I feel like writing details all at once.

I watched the film without any idea of what kind of a film it is, save for the short synopsis at the back cover of the DVD. It was a blessing; I expected nothing of the film, so the film gave me more, much more, than I expected.

The film left my mind working from the beginning until the end. It's the kind of story where you can't figure out what will happen next, although what happens next is not per se shocking. Still, the story maintained the mystery until the end. Definitely, this film is not for relaxing; it's for stimulating.

Actually, it feels like watching a book. (I have not read the book.) It has intricacies that one finds in a book, as well as metaphorical details. Watching the film seems like flipping pages of a book, and the characters are coming into life. I particularly noticed the language of Henrik Vanger. It's very poetic.

What I found really interesting about the film is its dysfunctional world, like the dysfunctional Kick-Ass world. I was drawn to its dysfunctional characters. It has (1) a dedicated male journalist convicted of libel who lives an adulterous life; (2) a girl with facial piercings and multiple tattoos who is a ward of the state for being incompetent but is a genius and a computer hacker; a guardian who rapes his ward; and a whole family whose every member is damaged one way or another.

With characters who really have characters, I guess a good story naturally follows. It starts with a retired CEO Henrik Vanger hiring the libel-convicted journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to investigate the murder of his niece Harriet, which took place 40 years ago. Talk about obsession. The murder took place in an island which the family owns and where only family members live. To Henrik's mind, Harriet was slain by the hands of a Vanger.

Mikael started investigating each member of the wealthy Vanger family, under the guise of writing a memoir for the retired Henrik Vanger. The whole town, a small one, though knows that he is investigating the disappearance of Harriet. In my view, the town is creepy in itself. Everybody knows everybody, and a stranger is so easy to spot. So the investigation went on. Eventually, he sought the help of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a very good researcher/investigator, having a talent in hacking and a probing mind.

The central characters of the story, Mikael and Lisbeth, were an unlikely "dynamic duo". Together, they tried to solve the mystery of Harriet. Interestingly, they are led by Leviticus bible verses, written by Harriet in a notebook, which are hardly inspirational; in fact, the verses describe ways of violently "punishing" wrongdoers, female wrongdoers. Imagine an ancient cruel punishment in modern-day life. It must have felt right to the punisher, feeling backed up by ancient wisdom. The deeper the investigation goes, the more twisted the family becomes. There are different layers of mud.

Another story line in The Girl is a look in Lisbeth's life. She has been a ward of the state since 12, and a problem ward at that. She's living alone, independently, and never really connected with anyone, except maybe for her old guardian (prior to the rapist) who unfortunately suffered brain damage. She's a brilliant investigator, noticing minute details, even in photos; she'll probably notice a change in fabric even in leather furniture repair. She's unsociable, independent, and violent, if provoked. Her dragon tattoo probably breathes the fire, and the fury, she feels inside. She feels no remorse in torturing a person if he deserves it. She's definitely damaged. And all that she is at this point is perhaps a cry for help.

Through the course of the investigation, Lisbeth found a friend in Mikael. How she expressed her appreciation to this new concept of "connection" to a person is very unorthodox. Their friendship is unorthodox.

As the story unfolds, more and more, I feel empathy toward Lisbeth, but never for Mikael. Mikael's battle is for restoring his reputation as a journalist, although there seemed to be no attempt to fix his personal life. On the contrary, there seemed to be a glimpse of hope to Lisbeth's reclusive life when she finally made one friend.

The next question is whether the story has a happy ending.


eks said...


(after three readings, yan na lang naiwan sa comment ko sa post mo. :-D)

i really believe you should consider hiring someone like lisbeth as your research asst once you have your own law firm already. :-) talentado!

witsandnuts said...

I did watch it, too (the Swedish version) and it took me months to move on with so many thoughts. Paano naman kasi, sinunod kong panoorin yung Parts 2 & 3. :)