Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"the girl who kicked the hornet's nest" ("luftslottet som sprängdes") movie review

"the girl who kicked the hornet's nest" ("luftslottet som sprängdes"), the third and final instalment of stieg larsson's millennium trilogy, clocked in just shy of two and a half hours - 148 minutes to be exact. for a film where the principal actor's actual spoken dialog can be measured in a handful of minutes, it dragged on much too long. seriously, lisbeth salander, confined to a hospital bed and then a jail cell, for the first half of the film barely utters a spoken word. the action is moved along, thankfully, by her erstwhile "partner" in all the dirty business, mikael blomquist.

maybe that first take on the final instalment is too harsh? perhaps. but if it had come in 30 minutes lighter i'd probably have a more positive view. even when lisbeth finally "opens up" - to answer questions in her defense at her trial for the attempted murder of her father - her words are overshadowed by the visual impact of a punk/goth outfit she slipped into (together with a gelled mohawk). it was doubly distracting because, up until that point, lisbeth had only worn drab hospital/prison garb. she may be true to her inner self with this presentation, but was it wise packaging for the trial?

as for the trial, the nominal centerpiece of this instalment, it's fascinating to watch (in the first film she teamed up with blomquist to solve a mystery and exposed a conspiracy; in the second film she was framed for a trio of murders by her unspeakably evil father). it's not the sort of courtroom trail we've become accustomed to seeing in in the united states. from an american perspective, lisbeth's "trial" has in common with pre-trial discovery than a formal courtroom adjudication. as for the outcome - i doubt this is a spoiler - lisbeth is vindicated.

the film could have easily, and effectively, have concluded at that point. instead, she spends the remaining screen time tidying up a couple of loose ends. the most ludicrous, and gratuitous, moment is lisbeth's confrontation with her sociopath half-brother. rather than inflict the coup de grace, lisbeth dials for some unexpected assistance - which, in itself, neatly ties up one more loose end. but with all the effort to wrap up the disparate elements, the most unsatisfying - albeit believable - moment is lisbeth and mikael's hello and farewell.

it makes one (or at least me) dial back to the first film and wonder out loud how they ever became physically (i wouldn't stretch it to romantically) involved. still, mikael's feelings for her are the glue that string together the three films. is he in love with her? is he searching for justice? or is he seeking to expose the evil that men do across the pages of millennium, with lisbeth as the vehicle for that end? probably all of the above.

so while the film ran too long for my taste - and needlessly tied up loose ends - "the girl who kicked the hornet's nest" is worth seeing (especially if you've already seen the first two). but after spending 7+ hours with "the girl," over three films - i'm glad the american version of the millennium trilogy won't be out for a while yet :O

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