Tag Team Review – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Now that the formality of Awards season is out of the way, it’s back to business as usual at Casta Towers and what better way to hit the ground running than by treating our loyal fan base to another classic JOINT REVIEW!

We’ll be back in audio form at the end of the week but until then here’s what we both had to say about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo:

First up, Mr Wakeman.

Don’t tell the other Chris but I think we’ve got a film on our hands here that proves a point he has long made…that a film is likely to be held in higher regard if it is foreign language.

Right first things first, the film itself; Great entertainment from beginning to end. Dragon Tattoo runs in at two and a half hours and trust me, you won’t feel a second of it. The dual narratives of Mikael and Lisbeth which run through the opening hour until their paths collide are expertly handled by director Niels Arden Oplev so that each time you rejoin one story from the other you aren’t disappointed as can so often be the case, you are as gripped and intrigued by each of their journies (in startlingly different ways too).

The film wears its mystery thriller jacket to great effect, skipping through the classic beats of the genre with ease and finesse until the final revelations act to wrap the whole thing up in a neat little package so that we can all go home knowing whodunit and why. Who would want it any other way? Our attention is constantly validated and backsides will move further and further towards the edge of the seat as each finely performed minute goes by; isn’t that the benchmark of all good thrillers?

BUT: At the end of the day a neat little thriller is really all Dragon Tattoo has to offer. One particular aspect of the ending is so glaringly obvious from the beginning of the film that it’s almost a shock in itself to see one character’s look of surprise on their face when the truth is finally revealed – as if the possibility had never crossed their mind.

Dragon Tattoo has kicked ass throughout Europe and rightly so, it deserves to do just as well here and in America and I’m sure it won’t surprise anybody to learn that a Hollywood remake is already on the cards, so go and check out the original while you still can. But when all is said and done are all the 5 star reviews and magazine articles merely a result of the fact that this film is Swedish and comes with the fetishised ardour of subtitles? Yes, it is impressive that something so glossy and accessible has come from Europe and not America, but get over it.

This is not Film of Year material. It’s just damn good cinema. And you should definitely go and see it.

Happy now? Good, I’m glad.

Love you!


Stop! Madden time!

Okay so we’ve got a bit of a problem on our hands and, quite unsurprisingly for a classic complainer like me, it only took me until the second Tag Team review to identify it. The problem then is this:

What the hell do we do when we actually agree on something?

Now I know this isn’t going to be a major issue as time progresses being as it’s rare that Brother Wakeman and I completely agree on something. Thinking back, it has happened a couple of times in the past  and when it did I resorted to inadvertently slandering him and sulking in a corner. Unfortunately that doesnt work quite as well in a written format as it does when we’re in confabulatio (Latin!) so I guess I’d better actually write something.

Congratulations Wazza; quite like the seasoned carpenter who can hammer with his eyes closed, you hit the nail square on the head. Everything Chris says above is absolutely bob on and from beginning to end I had a great time – in spite of the niggles. If you want to know exactly what I thought of the film, stop reading here and go back to the top and read Ceedub’s comments again, imagining them spoken with a more beardy voice (and with a hell of a lot more swearing), if you want to know why I thought what I did, then really it’s as simple as the  fact that I knew nothing about it and was pleasantly surprised, the fact that it’s the first of a trilogy and doesn’t rub your face in it, the fact that the separate plot threads come together in a satisfying manner that doesn’t feel contrived at all, the fact that the interactions between characters feel organic & natural and the fact that the suspense and mystery is handled masterfully throughout. I had a great time with this film but can still see the qualms that my esteemed colleague levels at it and for a nitpicker like me to  enjoy it despite those should go some way to speak for its quality.

Whilst I have you held captive and have a chance to say it, I just wanted to express that there’s something inherently worrying about the fact that Hollywood has already conveyed a desire to remake this film in English – much like how there’s something particularly French about A Prophet, or particularly Korean about Old Boy, there is definitely a lot of Sweden in this movie and, from what I understand, the other two stories in the trilogy. That’s not just to say that they’d struggle finding a new loaction or reworking the references so that they made sense to an English audience – it’s the fact that the crux of the trilogy’s whole narrative pertains fundamentally to idioms of Swedish identity and the concerns buried deep in the Swedish Pysche  – so much so that any kind of remake would lose a large part of what it is that makes this film great. Besides, even if to combat this the remake was set in Sweden, with Swedish characters and the only real difference came in the fact that it was in the English language, then it would just scream of redundancy. It’d be far easier just to record an English dub for the existing film and be done with it. Curse you Hollywood Machine!

Oh and also, the trilogy of films have all already been out in Sweden – in fact this first effort was released over a year ago there and more than ten months ago in France, Italy and Spain, which makes me wonder why we waited so long for some English subs… Anywho, on that note I think it’s high time for me to get off my soapbox, but just one last thing before I do – go and see this film if you get the chance. It’s great.

Madden out!


3 Responses to Tag Team Review – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  1. Adam Cadwell says:

    I have just returned from seeing this film (and a St. Paddy’s Day drink afterwards) with my girlfriend and I suggested this film based on the strength of this review. I had heard about the film from a Swedish friend of mine, but hadn’t planned to make a special effort to see it. This review changed that and I’m very glad it did because I saw a superbly told piece of tense, clever cinematic storytelling that I may otherwise have missed. It felt like a good detective novel while working brilliantly as a film.

    I knew from Chris M’s review that it was the first of 3 films but I wouldn’t have picked up on this otherwise. Both the leads were so involving and well portrayed that the sequels could easily follow either of them for another 2 mysteries.

    I would like to point out to anyone else reading this blog though that there are some very strong scenes of sexual violence earlier on which you may want to be aware of before taking a date to.

    I could chat about the hype and success of the film and it’s relation to being Swedish but I think Chris W sums up the main point, and I quoteth: “It’s just damn good cinema. And you should definitely go and see it.”

    Thank you Casta La Vista Chris’s!

    • castalavista says:

      Another satisfied customer!

      Cheers for the feedback – always good to hear we’ve positively influenced somebody’s cinema choices.

      Good shout on the sexual violence thing to – funny I hadn’t even thought to mention it with me obviously being completely comfortable with the whole subject…

      Between this and Let the Right One In, the Swedes have been good to us lately eh Cadwell?

  2. […] first of my favourite things about Casta is when Chris M and I decide to write a tag team review. I don’t remember exactly why we decided to try this format (something tells me the Princess and […]

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