The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) Movie Poster Image
Graphic sexual violence in thrilling, subtitled crime drama.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 152 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Despite the intense violence perpetrated by people in power, the movie's overall message is that victims of outrageous crimes and abuse can find dignity and self-respect by developing their skills and reaching inward for courage and strength.

Positive Role Models & Representations

An offbeat heroine demonstrates that appearances can be deceiving: She's pierced, tattooed, anti-social, and she smokes constantly, but Lisbeth also proves to be highly intelligent, creative, and skillful. She's willing to risk her life for her beliefs, as well as for the safety of those about whom she cares deeply. On the other hand, women are seen as victims as well as heroes.

Violence

Several sequences graphically depict sexual assault, forced oral sex, torture, beatings, and bloody attacks. Numerous gruesome photographs of mutilated female bodies appear throughout. Characters are strangled, hung, whipped with electrical cords, drowned, and burned.

Sex

Consensual sex and explicit sexual activity with partial nudity, both male and female (breasts). Graphic sexual dialogue.

Language

English subtitles in translation from the Swedish include multiple use of  "f--k," "motherf--ker," "bitch," "s--t," "goddamn," "whore," "c--t," "blow job," "damn," and more.

Consumerism

Apple computers, Google, Castrol, KIA.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The lead character, a young woman, smokes cigarettes non-stop. There's also some moderate social drinking in a number of scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this subtitled Swedish film is 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13 and 18+ year old Written byWayne G. December 15, 2013

Too Much For Anyone To Handle

DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN WATCH THIS MOVIE. I cannot stress how inappropriate the whole thing is. I mistakenly let my child, a James Bond fan watch this with n... Continue reading
Adult Written byZany Mom December 27, 2011

Bad Parent of the Year Award.

Well, I took my 19 year old daughter to it, who is okay with mysteries and especially enjoys comedies and love stories. We originally wanted to see War Horse o... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bydainkonon August 10, 2015

Pretty good

Really good movie from the best selling book, but so many things are skiped.
Teen, 17 years old Written byLcoreviews2 December 20, 2011

Thriller Good for older teens

This movie is incredible and very VERY disturbing. if your child is mature and can handle things above and beyond his/her age, Consider it but there are undenia... Continue reading

What's the story?

This Swedish thriller 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 this movie cross that line? If it was enjoyable for you, what emotions did it evoke?

  • Lisbeth Sis a unique character. What is an anti-hero?  What other unlikely heroes or heroines do you remember from films you've seen?

Movie details

  • 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

For kids who love thrills

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