Saturday, August 14, 2010

"You choose who you want to be" (from movie)

(No plot spoilers in this movie review)

I have a new mystery/drama in my top 10 list of all time: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Actually it is in my top 5. Actually, I think it's my favorite movie of all time.

It is riveting, fast-paced, perfectly written drama that is steadfastly about justice and independence, uncompromisingly so in the main character: Lisbeth Salander (played with stunning virtuosity by Noomi Rapace, photo). At one point in the movie, a hard-ass journalist tries to make a few excuses for a murderer/rapist. Lisbeth, who suffered enormities as a child that continue into the present, turns her fierce eyes to him and says about the murderer: "He had the same choices as everyone else. You choose who you want to be. He wasn't a victim. He was an evil motherfucker who hated women."

That scene doesn't end with the stare. Lisbeth continues to quietly but ferociously watch the journalist to see if he will face up to what she said. She wants to see who he has chosen to be! As hard as Lisbeth is, she is played with unsentimental vulnerability in scenes that are breathtaking in their acting and their writing.

The second time I watched the movie (within 10 days), I replayed that scene about five times, and each time, my spine got shivers and my head shook with disbelief at perfection that you will rarely see in modern-day cinema.

If that scene sounds fantastic to you, you will find other scenes that are more powerful graphically.

There are a few, sympathetic anti-capitalist remarks in the movie and a few other tangential problems, but nothing that egregiously takes away from a nearly perfect movie. I have never given a movie a "10" rating, but I would give this one a 9.9 -- even above my beloved "Shawshank Redemption." It has better pacing; it is more visceral in its life-threats; it is more awe-inspiring in its evocation of how the main character handles the life-threats and those who threaten her; and it shows Lisbeth as an ingenious person with the singular focus of a moral predator.

Go see it and let me know what you think.

(I no longer reveal plot lines or key plot scenes on movies, so the moviegoer may go into the movie fresh.)

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