The performance of an extraordinary young actress named Noomi Rapace would be enough to make "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (subtitled, Swedish, showing at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke) required viewing, but there's much, much more to what may be the year's best movie.
Based on a complex crime novel by Stieg Larsson expertly directed by David Fincher), the story centers around the investigation by a reporter (Michael Nyqvist) and a computer hacker (Rapace) of the disappearance of a girl 40 years in the past.
It is a complicated, layered plot with a lot of people, a number of circumstances to remember and some troubling violence (much of it shown). It is never difficult to follow, however, and even though it's nearly three hours long, it seems half that.
We're dealing with murder, rape, incest and some death scenes that border on nauseating. The rape scenes are terrifying. It is a gritty movie, full of plausible outcomes, believable characters (and performances), appropriate music and outstanding cinematography.
The word is that Hollywood is preparing a version with Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Carey Mulligan and George Clooney and my feeling is that they should leave well enough alone here. This movie is something of a "To Kill a Mockingbird" in that I don't expect it could be done better.
Because this is a dark, plodding, often brooding film, imagining a satisfying ending was difficult throughout, but when the credits started to roll during our viewing, the audience enthusiastically applauded. I see that maybe once a year and it's almost always deserved. It certainly was here. This is a truly fine piece of motion picture making. See it.
(I find it impossible to pass up the mention of Rapace attacking a bad guy with a golf club--three iron, I think--without mentioning the increasingly relevant warning: "Beware Swedish women wielding three-irons"--think Tiger Woods.)