Parents' Guide to

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

By Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Graphic sexual violence in thrilling, subtitled crime drama.

Movie R 2009 152 minutes
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 9 parent reviews

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.
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.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9 ):
Kids say (11 ):

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.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: February 27, 2009
  • On DVD or streaming: July 6, 2010
  • Cast: Michael Nyqvist , Noomi Rapace
  • Director: Niels Arden Oplev
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • 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: April 13, 2023

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