The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

 
Graphic sexual violence in thrilling, subtitled crime drama.
  • Review Date: November 7, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 152 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:February 27, 2009
DVD release date: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

This review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) was written by

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byZany Mom December 27, 2011
age 18+
 

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 or Mission Impossible and they were sold out. I was intrigued by the TV ads of this movie and it had available seats, so we went to that instead. Well the first hour progressed well with nothing I felt was awful. Then the sex scenes started and went from bad to just awful and horrible and I wanted to take my sweet daughter out the door! Of course, I didn't and felt horrible about it the rest of the movie and all the next day. I apologized to her as it wasn't her kind of movie even though she was 19, but she went along with me. Since I blew it, I wanted other parents to know who might want to see this with their child who likes Stephen King or Spielberg movies that this IS NOT one of those type movies and I would not make that mistake again. I did, however, enjoy the story line and the characters myself and just wish they could have gotten their point across without being so sexually graphic. Probably my bad because I didn't research the movie ahead of time.
Parent of a 13 and 18 year old Written byWayne G. December 15, 2013
age 18+
 

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 no prior research. I only caught it about forty minutes in and made him turn it off. From what I did see, I made a big mistake. SO MUCH sex and violence.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byFilmFanatic October 21, 2013
age 16+
 

Fabulous movie, but some hard to watch scenes. Good discussion topics for older teens.

The only real shocker in this film is the on screen rape and forced oral sex on the main character, and the idea of numerous women being raped, tortured and killed by a sadistic nazi serial killer (Some bodies are shown, but its not as bad as the aforementioned rape scene). It is also said that a young girl was abused sexually by her family members, one of which is a teen boy. The revenge that the main female protagonist takes against her rapist is also quite disturbing. She ties him up, forces (and then later kicks) a sex toy up his rectum, and tattoos the words "I am a sadistic pig and a rapist" on his chest. If you (or your child) can handle these scenes then the rest of the film should be a breeze. Theres a good amount of strong language throughout but its not constant and is well placed. The main female protagonist smokes CONSTANTLY and has an almost gothic, edgy appearance that can be impressionable on teens. The makeup and clothes are fine but I could easily see teens picking up smoking/body modifications as a result of watching this. Aside from all the negativity, Lisbeth is a great protagonist and a pretty good role model (to an extent). She gets sexually abused and had a hard life as a child, but is still smart and usually has a good moral standing. After watching this movie with your teen, you could possibly talk about sexual abuse, how it affects Lisbeth's character and if she makes the right decisions regarding revenge. You could then talk to them about preventing rape and what to do if it ever happens to them. The movie may be disturbing at times, but its message rings true and these kinds of things DO happen. Best your son/daughter is knowledgeable about them, but obviously at the right age.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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