When Hell freezes over, it may look like Sweden. Based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo delves into sadistic sex and violence, cut-throat family dysfunction, the shadowy worlds of computer hacking and financial crime — and anything otherwise Nordic, sunny and blonde gets implicated with Aryan sympathies. The thriller was the most popular film in Europe last year.
A blown story about a financial tycoon leaves Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) looking at jail time for a libel conviction. Forced out of his journalism career, he is hired to investigate a 40-year-old murder by an elder member of the Vangar family, which is divided over its extensive wealth. Henrik Vangar believes someone in the clan killed his beloved niece Harriet. They don't like the discredited Blomkvist being on their snow-dusted island enclave or digging around in their checkered past. Henrik also was careful about hiring the disgraced journalist, but the computer hacker he hired to vet Blomkvist doesn't take orders from anyone. Heavily pierced, tattooed and anti-social, the androgynous and gaunt Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) fights to escape her past and the constraints of probation from a mental institution. She's venomous and fierce to say the least, and in an environment where so many have a taste for bondage and sadism, she takes no prisoners.
Blomkvist and Salander share a dogged surety that somewhere — be it in an impossibly vast universe of electronic data, archived photos or business receipts — proof of any particular action exists. But sometimes a single fact can be misleading, and the film sustains tight suspense through most of its two-and-a-half hours as they get ever closer to finding the killer. In Swedish with English subtitles. The New Orleans Film Society screens the movie as part of its Film-O-Rama showcase (April 22-29). Tickets $8.50, $6.50 NOFF members. — Will Coviello
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
7 p.m. & 10 p.m. Thu.; 9:30 p.m. Fri.; 7 p.m. Sat.; 9:30 p.m. Sun.-Mon.
Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.neworleansfilmfest.com