Millenium: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Stockholm syndrome

Film. The first adaptation of the new Millennium trilogy is a caricature of Nordic cinema. Demonstration.

By Théo Ribeton

If Stieg Larsson had known what a ruckus it would make of his work after his death, he would probably try to better prepare how she would survive. The only problem is : in the twenty-first century, we still do not know how to predict neither the bestsellers, nor the infarcts, and when the two hit in one go at the same place, a big mess ensues.

“ A Sweden so cliché that the Montmartre of Amélie Poulain would pass, next, for a summit of naturalism.

Synthesize: in 2004, the writer died leaving behind a trilogy polar, Millenium, centered on Lisbeth Salander, hacker and autistic Asperger feminist biased tendency. Published posthumously, the three volumes are a resounding success (80 million sales to date). The Swedish television commissioned an adaptation, itself so followed that the last two parts are distributed to the cinema, Noomi Rapace takes the main role.

In 2011 David Fincher already launches an English remake of the first episode, entrusting the score to Rooney Mara, who receives the Oscar for best actress. Four years and 240 million at the box office later, this is to prevent the drying up of the source: a new author, David Lagercrantz is appointed in Sweden to take the characters of Larsson and write a new trilogy. Two new volumes appear. The third is scheduled for 2019.

But here we are today when the success story turns into vinegar. Millénium : The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a shallot race, where the Swedish and American secret services and a terrorist organization are fighting over a mass surveillance program that Salander has managed to hack into. It is a triple time a tipping point for the saga. First, because it is the first adaptation of an unwritten component by Larsson. Then, because we discover the third actress : Claire Foy (seen in The Crown and currently in theaters in First Man). In just ten years, only Spiderman has changed so much. Finally and most importantly, the eruption of the genius of the crime movie from which everything started seems definitely undermined, to leave room for a kind of quiet management of heritage.

Most striking is the fact that the film by Uruguayan horror film director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead, 2013) is not that of a plot but a set. A police-style postcard Scandinavia, ready-to-use studio for frozen thriller. Angular lofts, techno underground parades, industrial ports, epidemic of piercings and platinum dyes on all floors. Not to mention the brutal hegemony : not a phone booth, not a newsstand, not a bird feeder escapes the architectural style of the moment – a little more and the toothbrushes were concrete. A Sweden so cliché that the Montmartre of Amélie Poulain would pass, next, for a summit of naturalism.

But such a traffic jam of local clichés is not, of course, without its behavioral stereotypes. And on this, Millenium dares a sleight of hand whose existence we almost forgot to remember : the imitation of the local accent in English. Because yes, Claire Foy ape the Swedish accent. We had not seen that since the nasty “Russian” action movies of the 80s, and their “r” rolls of joke and catch.It’s crazy but also very perverse. In Fincher’s version, Rooney Mara lisped. This tic of language was not due to her real nationality (she is American) or supposed, nor to her lips or tongue pierced, but it was a way to concretely mark the social and communicational maladjustment of her character, who spoke a language that could be described as “spitting”, raw, without coating, like his way of doing justice.Today, the crude Aboriginal effect applied to Claire Foy’s speech also serves as a marker of maladjustment. It serves to mimic a nationality and to designate it as bizarre. In short, the post-punk lookbook turns into vaguely racist delirium.