The Girl Who Played With Fire (Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden): This is a highly entertaining follow-up to my personal favorite film of the year so far, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Again, the story revolves around Lisbeth Salander, the tiny woman with a lethal mix of damage and drive, played by the Swedish actress Noomi Rapace. Rapace’s Lisbeth is a tiny fury of a Goth hacker. At only 88 pounds, so she will lose a fistfight with a man; but she prevails with her smarts, resourcefulness and machine-like relentlessness. Lisbeth is always mad AND always gets even. As I have written before, Lisbeth Salander is the best new crime drama character since Helen Mirren’s Inspector Jane Tennyson.
In The Girl Who Plays With Fire, Lisbeth is framed for a triple murder. She must find The Real Killer while on the run, aided by a mostly independent investigation by her ally, journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Their parallel investigations lead to a villain much closer to Lisbeth than one could imagine. Plays with Fire has the structure of a detective procedural, but has the tone of a thriller.
Although I liked them both, I did prefer The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo to Plays With Fire. The Wife and two friends who had all read the books, strongly preferred Played with Fire to Dragon Tattoo. I don’t know whether this is a gender thing or whether people who know the story react to the movies differently. I generally enjoy major plot twists more when I don’t see them coming, and I have certainly found some big surprises in both Dragon Tattoo and Plays With Fire.
Plays With Fire is the second part of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, to be followed in October by The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.