Saturday, 12 September 2009

The girl who played with fire (Flickan som lekte med elden) (2009)

Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millenium -trilogy is being transformed into movies. The girl who played with fire is the second part in the series, and continues the story that started in The girl with the dragon tattoo, the story of the hacker Lisbeth Salander and the Millenium -magazine's editor in chief Mikael Blomkvist.

Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) returns to Sweden after about a year's "exile" and immediately gets the "men who hate women" on her tail. Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) has not heard a single word from Lisbeth since she disappeared after the events in The girl with the dragon tattoo. Mikael starts working with a freelance-journalist Dag, who has with his girlfriend (who is doing her doctoral thesis of the subject) done research of the buying and selling of women. In their research they have found interesting things about some high ranking state officials participating in the trade, and want to get their names in public.

When Dag and his girlfriend are murdered and in the gun the fingerprints of Lisbeth are found, everyone in the police as well as among the criminals in question start chasing the gothic, tattooed young woman. More horrifying details are revealed of Lisbeth's past and finally she gets to meet her past, face to face. And this is the most I can tell you without spoiling the story :)

The girl who played with fire does not quite reach the quality of its predecessor. The girl with the dragon tattoo was a masterpiece among thrillers in every detail with such an intensity that can only be admired. Thematically it was unique because of the feministic and anti-racist plot. Part two continues the same style, but as a whole is more fragmented and difficult to follow.

Following the complex story leaning only to subtitles is a bit difficult. My knowledge of Swedish is not very good and I found myself having some difficulties in understanding everything that was happening, as the story moves forward in such a fast speed and it does not waste too much time in explaining things. Also you may get more out of the story if you have read the original novels... I had not.

However, The girl who played with fire is filled with the same feminist energy as its predecessor and Rapace pulls her amazing and complex role again with such a skill that must be applauded. This movie focuses even more to Lisbeth's character and makes it definitely Rapace's film. Lisbeth is a female character with an attitude that is seldom seen in movies these days, and this along with her strange and horrifying past makes her one of the most interesting movie female characters in a long time!

Final verdict: Does not quite match its predecessor, but is still a very good thriller with interesting characters and focus on important issues of human trade and women's rights as well as the state of the psychiatric health care. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most interesting female characters in a long time, and Noomi Rapace does a marvellous job in personating her. Recommended to people who enjoy quality thrillers and who are not afraid of watching a Swedish film.

Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Written by Jonas Frykberg, based on Stieg Larsson's novel
Cast Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Georgi Staykov, Sofia Ledarp
***** by Paivi