A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) is a subtitled Swedish film that's definitely not for kids. With graphic sexual violence, gruesome murders, torture, and pervasive coarse and sexual language, even adults might be disturbed by what they see. Expect multiple images of mutilated dead young women and numerous instances of female nudity (including breasts), as well as partial male nudity in graphic tortuous poses. The female heroine smokes continuously. Still,k despite the intense content, the movie's message of good triumphing over evil ultimately provides some relief.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is based on the first book in the wildy popular trilogy by journalist Stieg Larsson, published after his death. Following his conviction for libel and waiting to serve his prison term, investigative journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist) is hired to find the truth behind the 40-year-old disappearance of a wealthy young woman who has long been presumed murdered. He teams up with Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a heavily pierced, spike-haired, and tattoed young woman with a mysterious past. Lisbeth is a misfit with a brilliant mind and masterful computer skills. She's also the current victim of a corrupt, perverted government official. In great danger themselves, Mikael and Lisbeth unearth the decades-old family tragedy and seek justice for an untold number of young women who died at the hands of racist, degenerate criminals. Those who get caught up in the story will want to continue with the sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, though it's equally graphic.
Is it any good?
There's never been a character quite like Lisbeth Salander. She's intriguing, infuriating, unknowable, and ultimately sympathetic. Swedish director Niels Arden Opvel and Rapace have succeeded in bringing this unconventional young woman to life in a well-made, highly charged, and often gruesome spectacle.
Even some adults may have trouble watching the many disturbing scenes in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which include explicit sexual assault, torture, and mayhem. And, contrary to convention, the villains are pleasant-looking, benign gentlemen of the upper classes, while the central romantic heroine is the most punked of the punk.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why filmmakers felt it necessary to be so explicit in their depictions of the crimes against Lisbeth Salander? Did it heighten your appreciation and respect for the character?
Sometimes there's a fine line between a horror film and a thriller. Did The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) cross that line? If it was enjoyable for you, what emotions did it evoke?
Lisbeth Salander is a unique character. What is an anti-hero? What other unlikely heroes or heroines do you remember from films you've seen?
- In theaters: February 27, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: July 6, 2010
- Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace
- Director: Niels Arden Oplev
- Studio: Yellow Bird
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 152 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent content including rape, grisly images, sexual material, nudity and language
- Last updated: February 20, 2020
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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