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An interesting and well-sourced documentary that probes a largely unfamiliar side of a world-famous author, “Stieg Larsson: The Man Who Played With Fire” is nevertheless hobbled by a lack of critical introspection. Polished, engaging, and altogether relevant, the effort doesn’t challenge its subject, or ask the viewer to do much but admire him. It takes all of thirty minutes to pull this last trick off, leaving an hour-plus of filler to bolster the best-selling writer’s legend via a straightforward hagiography exercise.
Director Henrik Georgsson opens his documentary by giving a quick recap of his subject, Stieg Larsson. The author of the “Millennium” book series (which includes “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” et al), Stieg was actually more famous for his work as an anti-Nazi journalist during his lifetime. A tireless crusader against the social and political growth of right-wing extremism in Europe, Larsson literally co-wrote the book on the subject in the early-90s, and later helped to establish a magazine whose sole purpose was identifying and exposing Sweden’s Neo-Nazi cells.
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Georgsson’s film clips along at a nice pace, and does a good job outlining the growth of Larsson’s anti-Nazi ideology over the course of an entire lifetime. The documentary mixes home video footage, personal photos, dramatic recreations, and interviews with family, friends, and colleagues to paint a picture of an unquestionably driven man. A graphic artist by day, Larsson spent his nights, weekends, and holidays researching the political and...
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