Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

I know. I'm woefully behind on my horror films. But I can't help it - the Giants are in the playoffs, so a lot of my tv time has been monopolized by baseball. I'll probably keep watching things through November.

Also - a quick note on Conviction. I thought the Boston Globe review brought up a good point (surprisingly; I don't think they have the world's best reviews). The bit was this; "Rockwell’s face conveys the emotional wear and tear of prison life, but his character’s struggle is the existential meat of the movie: How do inmates survive an unjust conviction?" While Rockwell really does do a great job in those brief scenes of demonstrating his character, the reviewer makes a great point. I think the movie would have been much better if we had seen more of Kenny's struggle alongside his sister's. But, hey, I'm a big Oz fan. I love prison drama.

ANYWAYS - the Brattle got a special preview screening of The Girl That Kicked the Hornet's Nest, so I went to that last night.

[On a quick note: reason #37 I love the Brattle? Ned was talking up some upcoming shows and mentioned that they would be showing Frederick Wiseman's new film, Boxing Gym, which is mercifully short, and a good chunk of the audience started laughing. How many places in the world will you be around people who get a Frederick Wiseman punchline?]

Back to the Hornet's Nest.

The good news is I liked it much better than the second film. I didn't like it as much as the first film, but overall I enjoyed it. My only quibbles would be that a little bit of the middle started to drag before the trial kicks in (which is surprising, considering how much material they were trying to cram in from the book). Also that a couple of my favorite characters from the book got minimal screen time. But that problem is definitely understandable, given the length of the source material. Oh, and they changed Erika's arc, which I thought made her a little bit shrill in the movie. I liked her so much in the book that I found that change a little disappointing, but it was a pretty minor part of the movie. And I definitely think that Erika needed to stick around Millennium for the plot of the film (in the book she leaves for a different position).

I was discussing the film at work today and I hadn't thought about this before, but I think one of the reasons I really enjoyed it was that it passes the Bechdel Test. I was thinking about how much I enjoyed the scenes between Lisbeth and Annika. And it struck me that I think part of that chemistry is that they are both really interesting, strong female characters interacting with each other, which I don't get to see very often.

I really liked Annika in this movie - I think she provides a really interesting counterpart to Lisbeth. They unfortunately left out one of my favorite cross-interrogations of hers from the book, though - when she tears down the psychiatrist's argument that Lisbeth's piercings and tattoos indicate a damaged psyche.

I don't remember if in the book Annika was pregnant? But she was in the film, and I really liked that, too. It was jarring at first. I can't think of the last time I saw a pregnant woman on film where the film wasn't about her pregnancy. But no - in this film, she was just going around, being a lawyer, and the fact that she was pregnant was never commented on. Just like in real life, but hardly ever like in the movies.

Oh and I loved the guy they got to play Anders Jonasson, Lisbeth's doctor. The actor they picked was younger than I had pictured from reading, but he was so spot on in the way in which he cares for Lisbeth.

Mikael and Lisbeth continue to be riveting to watch. Noomi Rapace is such an exceptionally gifted actress that she can hold the audience's attention so well while being mute and still.

Obviously, there is more in the books, and it will be interesting to see what David Fincher does with the material, but the Swedish films are well worth a watch. (Okay - the second one isn't, but it leads into the third...)

4/5 stars.

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