Five reason to love these films.
(1) Lisbeth Salander. This character’s physical prowess and computer savvy, resourcefulness and flaws make her a fully realized human being. Sure, she represents female wish-fulfillment. Is that a bad thing? Larsson created a character who addresses female rage without renouncing the domain of the emotions or physical pleasure. Posthumous kudos to him.
(2) Journalism. You have to love a movie that features a muckraking magazine like Millenium. The tiny staff makes collective decisions, sometimes struggling with ethical concerns. Major plot points are announced on the front pages of daily newspapers. Get out! All of a sudden, real journalism is fact-based, exciting and impactful.
(3) Stieg Larsson’s original title was Men Who Hate Women. He took a strong, unambiguous stand against sexual violence.
As brutal and nauseating as the central rape scene is, it is essential. How else can we completely deglamorize sexual assault for our generation? I applaud the filmmakers and actors for showing us what rape really is, not titillation or a label placed on a game between, at least, initially consenting adults but a crime of power and violence, fueled by rage.
Consider what is implied by the endless process of broken and battered female bodies on CSI, Law & Order, etc.
(4) Strong relationships defined by both parties. The romance between Lisbeth and the middle-aged journalist Mikael Blomkvist is one of the most satisfying movie relationships I’ve seen in years. Blomkvist becomes Lisbeth’s professional and sexual partner but he’s not quite up to the standard of Lisbeth’s ferocious drive and intelligence.
Mikael’s Millennium co-worker and sometimes lover, Erika Berger, isn’t ridiculed. A middle-aged woman is shown as sexy, vibrant, intelligent, principled, caring and relevant. Breathtaking.
I will be very surprised if the Hollywood remake doesn’t correct this issue.
(5) Movie mysteries that deal with big ideas without losing their characters’ humanity.
Perfect? No. Richly satisfying. Yes.
(6) Violence that actually costs the characters and the viewers something.
P.S. Congratulations to Noomi Rapace. A star is born.