Män som hatar kvinnor

Män som hatar kvinnorSummary: Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found and her beloved uncle is convinced she was murdeed and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed and troubled yet resourceful computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) to investigate.

When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vanger’s are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition contains more than two hours of additional footage not seen in the theatrical versions of the original Swedish films (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest). Amassing a total of 9 hours of story content and presented in 6 parts, this complete version of the international hit series restores notable characters and subplots from Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novels, most significantly in the portrayal of Erika Berger (Lena Endre), the editor of MILLENNIUM magazine as well as Mikael Blomkvist’s friend and occasional lover. Starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition is the quintessential set for lovers of the books and a must-have for fans of the film trilogy.
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Män som hatar kvinnor 8.25

eyelights: Lisbeth. the plot development. the enigma.
eyesores: Lisbeth.

The first time that I watched ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ was from a burnt copy that a friend had downloaded for me, insisting that I should see it. I had heard faint echoes of it before, but it was off my radar, so I was in no big hurry. Then my partner read the books. Since she pretty much lapped them up, I became slightly more curious to know what I was missing. And, obviously, she was quite keen to see how it translated to the screen.

Unfortunately, our movie experience wasn’t nearly as thrilling as I’d hoped -and expected- it would be.

Firstly, there was the copy that my buddy made me. I had no idea where it’d came from, but it was a poor quality video file that he’d grafted $#!tty subtitles to. The a/v quality wasn’t the end of the world, given that we were watching it on an average-sized TV, but the English subtitles were so shoddy that we had no idea what was going on half of the time. Thankfully, my partner had read the book, so we could pause the film and somewhat muddle our way through it together.

Secondly, for some reason, we kept getting interrupted, thereby spoiling the mood, ruining the build-up. Already I was finding it hard to keep track of what was going on, but my partner kept talking during the movie, no doubt with the intention of filling me in on some of the details – but it was quite a distraction. Then she kept getting phone calls and/or visitors (something to that effect… it’s been a long time so I don’t quite remember the precise details). All I remember are the incessant interruptions, and waiting there for the movie to start over again.

Needless to say, in the end I thought that it was an okay motion picture, but I wasn’t bowled over by it like most were.

But I always meant to give the series a chance and considered the viewing experience in my appraisal of the first picture. After reading that there was a series of extended versions of the films, each having been released as two part mini-series in Europe, I was intrigued: from what I could tell from the reviews, these editions were more faithful to the original books – even if they weren’t necessarily better films. As a purist, I was very curious to see the most accurate film renditions of these blockbuster novels.

I am quite seriously very pleased that I sought them out: this time around, I was able to understand everything that was being said and every minor detail that influenced the plot. Even my partner found that this version of ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ was easier to follow than the theatrical one. Of course, our experience is no doubt affected by the subtitling, but there are noticeable differences, such as the epilogue, which help to flesh out the scope of the picture dramatically. At over thirty minutes of extra footage, it’s not just the subtitles that make a difference.

In fact, I read a review somewhere that states that the film isn’t just longer, but its sequences have been edited in a completely different order than the theatrical version. This basically means that the filmmakers restructured the whole piece to accommodate the new footage, to make the halves flow as individual pieces, and to achieve a better overall coherence.. From a film buff’s standpoint, it would be fun to watch both versions back to back and compare the differences. I have no desire to do that, but it’s an intriguing notion nonetheless.

(For a complete rundown of all the changes, please visit the following site: www.movie-censorship.com/. It’s extensive and thorough. It’s a total eye-opener.)

What I especially like about this film is how it sets everything up. It begins by introducing us to Mikael Blomkvist, and explains in detail the legal woes he and his magazine, Millenium, are faced with; this already gives us much insight into the character, showing us hiss relations with his coworkers and how, despite the accusations against him, he comes off as an honourable, responsible guy. Then we are introduced to Lisbeth Salander, who has been hired to investigate Blomkvist for a lawyer who is planning to hire him for his own client.

We don’t know much about Salander, but she immediately comes off as the odd duck, working at a professional security firm but looking like a street punk; at first glance, one would not think much of her. Fact is, she is a genius and her hacking skills are in great demand. She is inexpressive, uncivilized, and generally rough around the edges. Really, all we know about her is what we see: a feral, muscular little woman who walks around with little grace, and who steers clear of all human contact. Getting to know her properly will take time.

But the film doesn’t take shortcuts, thankfully, and it lets us experience all the little moments that form our understanding of the characters and their interactions with their respective worlds.

Similarly, it takes it sweet time bringing our two leads together. In fact, for the first half of the picture, Blomkvist is unaware of Slander’s existence, even though she is becoming quite obsessed with him and what he’s doing. While we follow his investigation into the disappearance of Harriet Vanger by her rich uncle Henrik Vanger, Lisbeth remains in the shadows, sometimes sending clues to Blomkvist to help him along in his work. When they eventually meet, it will make for a most unusual working collaboration, given their respective personalities and histories.

While we’re following Blomkvist, Libseth has to deal with some personal matters. Having been under state guardianship for many years, she is confronted with a dramatic change in her arrangement – this will lead to some extremely unpleasant encounters with a lawyer by the name of Bjurman. These interactions are not for the weak of stomach; the film aggresses us with abuse that would make anyone cringe. In fact there’s this particularly wrenching scene that feels endless, even though the filmmakers were merciful enough not to drag it on too long.

Enough said about that.

Our story takes us from one lead to the next, as Blomkvist (with the help of Lisbeth) pieces together this decades-long mystery – one that had been given up on by everyone by Harriet’s uncle. It involves all sorts of unsavoury people, despicable acts, and enough twists to keep the viewer on edge without being so convoluted that it becomes unrealistic. ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ is a suspenseful murder-mystery of high caliber. It’s no wonder that it was talked about with such high praise: it’s right up there in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ category.

…minus Anthony Hopkins’ phenomenal performance, of course.

That’s not to say that the caliber of actors in ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ is subpar. Hardly. It’s just that Hopkins was pure genius in ‘…Lambs’. Actually, I’d say that the performances in this film are all rock solid – there is not one flat note across the board, even though no performance is extraordinary either. In particular, I’m speaking of Noomi Rapace, whose turn as Lisbeth turned quite a few heads. While I think that she incarnated the character quite well, there was always a mild awkwardness in her delivery that I couldn’t pinpoint: was it inherent to the character, or to the actor?

Either way, hers is an unforgettable turn.

By the time that we get to the final moments of the film, we are completely gripped by Lisbeth and her dynamic with Mikael; we want more. To avoid ruining any of the twists and turns in this extremely well-conceived thriller, all I can say is that anyone who can stomach a fair bit of grit should see it. As mentioned before, I would highly recommend this extended version even though it takes the film to the 3-hour mark: it’s closer to the author’s original intention and it doesn’t drag at any point – even in its slowest moments, it keeps the interest firmly piqued.

I suspect that most audiences would agree that ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’ leaves a permanent impression.

Date of viewing: February 10, 2013

4 responses to “Män som hatar kvinnor

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