Cambridge Film Festival Review: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (Luftslottet som sprängdes)

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The Pitch: One Angry Woman.

The Review: The Millennium trilogy has undoubtedly been a publishing sensation, but with the general public’s reticence to watch anything with subtitles, we’ll only truly know once David Fincher’s Dragon Tatto movie has been released if there is the potential for a movie version of these stories to truly connect with a global audience. What we have here, though, is a chance to at least assess the originals in their completed form. Niels Arden Oplev’s version of Dragon Tattoo was an original and compelling piece of work, but Daniel Alfredson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire was less successful, betraying its TV origins when the first movie felt cinematic and also feeling weaker in terms of story and construction.

Despite also originally being produced for Swedish TV, Hornet’s Nest bests the previous film in both areas, having more momentum and energy as well as feeling more rounded. The fact that it starts to tie some of the threads together from the previous two no doubt helps with that, but there’s some narrative shuffling at the beginning which only serves to raise the stakes. In a way this is odd; Dragon Tattoo felt self-contained, and the natural assumption would have been that its sequels would have seen Salander and Blomkvist continue to team up to get to the bottom of crimes, like a half-punk, half middle-aged Scooby Doo, but actually what we’ve had is three variations of tone and concept as part of the same over-arcing story.

The first movie was absolutely a detective story, and the second was more a thriller than anything else. This final chapter retains elements of the thriller, arguably implementing them more effectively this time around, but at the core is a courtroom drama. I don’t wish to give too much away as there are narrative threads running throughout the trilogy, but it’s Lisbeth’s story that is the focus and the repercussions that spread out more like shock waves than ripples. Noomi Rapace has been outstanding throughout the trilogy and that’s no different here; starting out beaten and withdrawn, but actually still the same old Salander beneath the façade.

Michael Nyqvist probably carries more of the story in this episode than in the earlier outings, and Lena Endre’s Erika Berger also comes more to the fore. Again, the acting from the supporting roles is pretty faultless, although it’s still Rapace that stands out. Aldredson’s direction is a little more efficient here, although it’s still not at the level of the first movie, but all in all this is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy and it’s only the middle which is the slightly weak link. David Fincher, the bar has been set.

Why see it at the cinema: If you’ve seen the first two at the cinema, then you should absolutely make the effort for the third. Even if you somehow caught the others by other means (and shame on you if that was the case), then this is still worth the trip out, especially for the higher tempo parts which benefit from freeing themselves from their TV confines.

The Score: 8/10

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