Make it Snappy: 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Lisbeth Salandar (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) in "The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo." Now at Manlius Art Cinema, also elsewhere upstate at The Little in Rochester, at Spectrum in Albany, and opens Friday at Cinemapolis in Ithaca.

What's most exhilarating is the moment of "disappointment" when his victims realize they won't get away, confides the killer, a connoisseur of single malt whiskey and calibrated cruelty, to Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). The journalist, with six months at loose ends before he begins prison term for libel, had been hired to unravel the long-ago disappearance of a wealthy industrialist's favorite niece. "You'll experience that too," the killer promises Blomkvist, who's by now tightly bound, a noose around his neck.

All the carefully built details of Nyqvist's quiet performance come together here and pay off. We've spent much of this film so far watching Blomkvist's own laser-like watchfulness -- as he assembles shreds of evidence on the wall in an ever-spreading collage and stands before it immersed, visits crime scenes and imagines anew the bodies discovered there, and peers into every interaction as if into darkness. Now he watches the killer, struggling to restrain his own animal fear lest it switch off that attention. In really well-done films of this kind, our own suddenly blossoming discovery of crucial secrets -- which has been working underground, so to speak -- occurs just as the character sees them too, perhaps a magnifying millisecond before. That's what sent me back to Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense" (1999) a second time, wanting to see how he did that. While I confess that, among the string of secrets driving this film, I figured out pretty early where that niece went, few films that clock in this long -- 152 minutes US, 180 at home in Sweden -- are this relentlessly satisfying.

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