2016.72: The Girl Who Played with Fire- Extended Version (Blu-ray)
Following on from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this film digs more deeply into the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander and her own mysterious past that unfolds here in a similar manner to the murder/incest mystery of the first film, but benefits by being more ‘personal’. Its another great performance from Noomi Rapace that clearly demonstrates how wasted she has been in Western movies since. Again, as with the first film, whatever the merits of the mysteries and crimes that are examined, the real reward here is in the characters and their fascinating arcs.
And with this extended version, there’s simply more of it, indeed a lot more, as I believe this version is close to an hour longer than the theatrical edit originally released over here. There was clearly a lot of material cut that frustrated fans of the book. Interestingly, the two leads, Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, are separated pretty much throughout the film, which is an interesting if non-traditional dynamic that is rather at odds with how film dramas are usually constructed. They approach the central mystery from opposite points of view, and both investigations unfold seperate from the other and nonetheless inform each other from the audience point of view.
General opinion ranks this film significantly lesser than the first film, but I rather liked it, particularly in this ‘fuller’ version that somehow made more sense and is richer for the additional details. I thought in the first film the central mystery was almost incidental to the more interesting character dynamics, and with this story more closely concerned with Salander and her mysterious past, this mystery feels more rewarding and intimate.
Watching the films over successive days also helps keep the various arcs and plot threads fresh in your head too, so I certainly got more from this film than did when I first saw it several years ago (and months after the first film). The reveals regards Salander’s tortured past informs events and actions in the first film too. So yes, it’s a very interesting central film in the trilogy, and greatly improved by the extended running time.