Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev, 2010) -- D

Perhaps the year's most disgusting film, Niels Arden Oplev's adaptation of the bestselling book series takes every conceivable opportunity to humiliate its characters, particularly Lisbeth Salandar (Noomi Rapace), whose curiously beaten, made to perform sex on demand, and raped nearly half a dozen times throughout the film's unbearable 154 minute run time. Even when she has sex willingly, it's ugly and cold. To make matters more ludicrous, the film peddles her character as some sort of feminist symbol, as if the mere fact that she scars her rapist by branding him with a tattoo that reads (no lie): "I am a sadistic pig and a rapist," justifies the preceding grotesqueness. Between the beatings and rapes, there's nearly incoherent babble about a narrative involving a lawyer who may or may not have been framed for a crime he may or may not have committed and an 82 year-old man in search of his long dead and (he believes) murdered daughter. Babble would actually be preferable, though, to the film's deadpan acceptance of technology, as Lisbeth or one of the other lifeless figures constantly types or searches on a computer, usually while driving a car to the next tedious bit of exposition, or in a dark basement/library looking at old news clippings. Devoid of any level of humanity or interest whatsoever outside of its dark, depressing, perverse world, the appeal of the novels becomes inconceivable, especially as the film relies solely on an insufferably talky and inert visual palette (not to mention completely humorless, unless you chuckle when Lisbeth jams a dildo up her rapist's ass (grrrrl power!)), all inside of a mystery/investigative narrative that carries no emotional weight whatsoever. It's beyond banality: it's punishment.

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