Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Here's a bit of idle curiosity: When awards time comes around, how does Music Box handle promoting Noomi Rapace? I presume that, although she's reportedly excellent in all three Millennium films (as you can see below, I'm fairly fond of her in at least the first two), they'll request people nominate her for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as it's probably the most familiar title of the three, and appears to be what was done in Europe.

Of course, if they do that, it's not like voters will be voting entirely for her work in that movie; it will be almost impossible to put the good work she does in Fire (and likely Hornet's Nest) out of their minds. Does that give her an unfair leg up on the other nominees? Or is it a fair compensation, considering that she won't have the chance to be nominated three times that a more conventional production/release schedule could have given her.

If she wins or is even nominated, the March-debuting Dragon Tattoo would be one of the earliest-released films to get recognition in recent years, although you'd have to put an asterisk next to it, I guess, for the same reasons - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest will likely still be in theaters and fresh in voters' minds (depending on whether you believe the Millennium Film Trilogy website or the Music Box Films website, it opens October 15th or 29th).

It's an interesting question that I suspect awards voters are going to have to wrestle with this fall. The first Mesrine film opens in Cambridge on the 27th, with the second part coming a week later. The year has also featured the Red Riding trilogy. And while I'm sure film societies and critics circles will happily award Ms. Rapace for her work in the entire Millennium trilogy, the Oscars and similar institutions with strictly defined rules may have a hard time fitting them in or getting the voters and studios to conform to the letter of the regulations.

Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 15 August 2010 in Landmark Kendall Square #5 (first-run)

It's not really important that the first "Millennium" novel (and film adaptation) is called "Men Who Hate Women" in Sweden, becoming "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" in English-speaking countries for the purpose of having the entire trilogy look nice when placed side-by-side on a shelf. It's notable, though, because that means that the second entry is the first to originally have its title be a description of Lisbeth Salander, a shift in focus that comes across loud and clear in this second [Swedish] adaptation.

It's been about a year since Salander (Noomi Rapace) helped disgraced reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) untangle a forty-year-old mystery and identify a serial killer. Salander has spent the year traveling, and Blomkvist has returned to Millennium. Things are about to heat up for both, though - Millennium has hired Dag Svensson (Hans-Christian Thulin) as a freelancer so that he and his girlfriend Mia (Jennie Silfverhjelm) can complete and publish their exposé of trafficking in Eastern European girls that could cause a major scandal in the national government, while Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), the guardian that Lisbeth memorably blackmailed in the first film, has decided he's had enough of being under her thumb and inquired about having her killed. Whoever Bjurman contacts opts not to kill Salander directly - instead, she finds herself neatly framed for a set of homicides, with only Blomkvist believing in her innocence.

Though all three films were made and released in rapid succession, Fire has a new creative team, with director Daniel Alfredson and screenwriter Jonas Frykberg taking over for Niels Arden Oplev and Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg (Alfredson and Frykberg stick around for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest). Whether because of the change in the creative team or because of the source material, Fire is less intense than Dragon Tattoo; it doesn't have a scene as brutal as the bit which got her Bjurman as an enemy until the finale, always keeps the story Dag was investigating at arm's length, and isn't able to quite do the same job of making research compelling to watch. It doesn't even put Blomkvist and Salander in the same room until the very end; their interaction is electronic and generally one-way.

Full review at EFC.

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