I liked particularly that this film was so un-Hollywood. It includes, certainly, some sensational brutality, but such scenes are presented without the visual delight that Hollywood seems to take in violence; they are short, ugly, and accompanied often not by a melodramatic musical score but by elegant passages of classical music, which serve paradoxically to highlight their inhumanity. There are no "stars." Well, perhaps these faces are familiar to Scandinavian audiences, but to me there was not a single known visage in sight. Their appeal is not the easy good looks or beauty of the movie-star persona; these were faces with character, faces on which some human history was written.
And the acting is terrific, from the "girl" of the title, whose affect-less, punk exterior covers for a wounded, vulnerable core to the maligned, soon-to-be-imprisoned reporter who is hired for his investigatory skills by a wealthy industrialist, intent on discovering the murderer in the bosom of his family. The characters are allowed to build slowly, patiently, and indeed keep building and changing until the end. So, too, are the scenes. There's no rush into anything here. The camera allows the action of each scene to develop in its own time, rather than feeling the need to get to the point and move on to the next. It's an action movie with a leisurely pace, whose settings, both interior and exterior, allow time for the eye to explore their subdued natural beauty or their architectural and decorative detail.
My quibble? The plot, towards the end particularly, seems to lose some of its clarity and focus, straying off at times in the direction of the improbable and seeming to struggle to tie up every loose end. My own bias, too, would have been to make more of Larsson's prescience about the causes of the global financial debacle. I'm looking forward to reading the second in the ill-fated Stieg Larsson's series of three books, completed but unpublished before the author's untimely death. Ellie is reading it now, and is clearly hooked. My son, though, who is a hardened reader of the hard-boiled stuff, told me that he had to put it down before he finished it, because it was so brutal. I'll let you know what I think when I inherit the book from Ellie. But she's a slow reader.