I don't know what I expected. Something high-brow and literary, probably, given the huge amounts of publicity and critical acclaim it's gotten. I know little about it because it doesn't fall into my genre niche and I have so little time for reading something I don't intend to review. Turns out it's a thriller, which ok, I can deal with that. I've even reviewed the occasional thriller. It started off slow, which is not so unusual for the genre, and then suddenly I was faced with a rape scene.
Rape is #2 on my "I don't deal well with this" list (child abuse is #1). The scene itself wasn't so bad, though, and the victim was not the kind of woman who would let this sort of thing just happen to her without consequences to her rapist. So I kept watching. Then came the second rape scene, which was horrible and graphic and incredibly violent. I couldn't watch it. When it was done, though, the movie indicated the victim had managed to videotape her rape. "Well," I thought, "I guess this is the part where she goes to the cops or someone and gets him hauled off..."
No. No, apparently that was the part where she goes back to the rapist's house, ties him up and tortures him, tattoos "rapist" across his belly and essentially forces him to agree to a list of demands. She promises that if he doesn't stick to his part of the bargain, she will release the tapes to the media and the authorities. Um, what? I suppose the torture and tattooing could be satisfying to the victim, but she's left him his freedom, allowing him to take other victims. And let's face it, he will.
And you know what? The rape/revenge subplot had nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It was completely unnecessary. The rapist didn't figure in the murder mystery aspect, and the whole guardian thing could have been dropped completely. I suppose they wanted to show how hardened Lisbeth (the victim) was and how hard she's had it, but the flashbacks with her father was a more effective way of managing both, so once again we're left with completely gratuitous violence. Mmm, violence against women. What a wonderful way to boost ratings.
And this is an international bestseller? This is the book people have been raving about? I shouldn't be so surprised, really, considering society's attitudes towards violence, rape, and women. To be fair, the movie certainly portrayed the rape as incredibly damaging, physically, emotionally and psychologically. It was still irrelevant and unnecessary and I'm very tired of seeing rape as a fallback motivation for women. She's strong because she overcame rape! She's driven because she needs to get back at her rapist! She's crazy because she was raped! It's ok, folks, we'll still glamourize it as much as possible for you.
Nope, I guess I can cross both the book and the upcoming American version of the movie off my list. Instead, I think I'll donate the price of a movie ticket and book to my local women's shelter.