I saw this movie about two months ago, certainly after the big hype this film had when it first opened. I am taking the time until today to write my commentary due to other things that occupied most of my time. The original title of the book was “Men Who Hate Women”, the book divided critics. Some saw as the story of a feminist avenger. Others criticized it, judging the whole effort "misogynist".
I didn’t read the book so I wasn’t aware of the controversy. It's all very confusing if you come to the story a bit after the event. When you begin to read about a book which is as hyped as this, you have certain preconceptions: I imagined clichés and extreme violence. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to discover it is neither formulaic nor disturbingly graphic. And it was indeed Larsson's take on feminism that made it stand out as an original read.
Personally, I thought the idea of gender was irrelevant. Maybe it is reinforced by the fact that the main character appears to be bisexual. We behave the way we do because of our individual personalities and personal histories. In Larsson's world, it's the psychopaths who split the world along gender lines.
The film is certainly graphic as it was required, concluding that Larsson's rape and murder fantasies are little more than sexist titillation. Reporters like Melanie Newman from the fword concludes that she has "difficulty squaring Larsson's proclaimed distress at misogyny with his explicit descriptions of sexual violence, his breast-obsessed heroine and babe-magnet hero".
However, in Joan Smith's original, positive review of the book in the Sunday Times she doesn't really argue on Larsson's feminism, noting only that as an activist: "Larsson's other great preoccupation [alongside the fascist movement] was violence against women, and the scarcely believable horrors Blomkvist unearths are as rooted in misogyny as they are in fascism."
So far, the film has been less divisive. It has been universally categorized as anti-women. I personally disagree. I see it as a great thriller that utilizes human psychosis to great an entertaining story. The violence, the rape scenes are part of the film’s impact and certainly belong to the genre. In the novel, I’ve heard, Larsson spares us many graphic descriptions, leaving a lot of the worst to our imagination. It seems, then, that the film has betrayed not only some of the book's original subtlety but also its feminism. Interesting. Go check it out or rent it. Let’s check the sequel already out.