The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Alfredson, 2009)

I came really close to not watching this movie.  The first was fine as a pretty standard thriller with good performances, but the second was a really awfully directed film with awkward pacing and annoying characters.  But…as is the power of stories, I wanted to know what exactly happens (because we all know what happens) so I caved.

As with the rest of the trilogy, soon to be released in the states via Fincher’s remake, the film follows two primary characters – Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace), a punkish hacker and Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) a rogue journalist – as they uncover vast Scandinavian conspiracies.

The third installment is more-or-less a courtroom drama and it follows much of the standard procedure of that formula – we intercut between the courtroom and the drama happening outside.  Surprise witnesses and evidence are introduced, much to the chagrin of whichever happens to be the losing side of the moment.  And, of course, the prosecutor is an unattractive person (mentioned that in an earlier post…what’s the deal casting agents?  Ever hear of playing against type?).

There’s really very little to make this film stand out.  Director Alfredson handles this film in a pretty obvious way, keeping his camera mostly trained on Lisbeth and trying to add a little flare with too-flashy moves and Lisbeth’s costume design.

While this is sold as a “psychological thriller” there’s really very little psychological going on.  I get that Lisbeth is tormented inside, but that’s mostly represented by her silence and costuming.  There aren’t really any great moments where her internal pain is externalized through a specific action – which is one of the successful moments in the first film.

And really, who is the costumer (Cilla Rorby) and the casting agent (Tusse Lande)?  I did not enjoy either of their work.  I have no problem with Lisbeth dressing “punk” but I love (I don’t really love this) how it’s always so sexualized.  So maybe this is supposed to be the point: Lisbeth has been sexually abused but she’ll be damned if she gives up her sexuality over a few horny men.  That’s all well and good but it feels like her outfit was chosen from a Hot Topic catalog.  Is this London punk rock circa 1977?  Okay, so Alfredson has a scene with her removing her makeup carefully after each courtroom scene (ie this is all an act), but it’s still not an effective act.  This is what I got from it: Lisbeth is wearing her clothes as a sort of weapon against a society that betrayed her.  But she’s still willingly playing into a stereotype (the fact that she removes it), which doesn’t really help anything in the long run and is really only there for the audience’s benefit (not to mention some great marketing stills).

And Tusse.  Really Tusse?  Our hacker friend is going to be a fat bearded guy wearing a trench coat (Cilla…)?  Lisbeth’s brother is going to be a Dolph Lundgren-prototype?  The biker’s are all going to look like Peter Fonda-Dennis Hopper hybrids?  So damn boring.

Someone do something surprising in this film!  Please!  If you don’t have a plot structure that’s built for anything outside of the standard then…Alfredson…adjust the rest of the mise-en-scene to keep things fresh.

Oh, and one last thing.  In a scene towards in the end in the courtroom there’s a very orange orange sitting on the table.  It’s so out of place.  It’s so strange.  Small detail, yes.  But it was someone’s job to place that orange.  What’s the deal?  That’s all I was looking at during this scene.  Wrong color scheme, unnecessary, and no one even eats it.



About dcpfilm

Shooting, teaching, writing and watching the Phillies.
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