Niels Arden Oplev‘s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the 2009 European hit thriller that’s finally opening in the U.S. on 3.19, is, in the view of journalist Jeffrey Ressner, “the best movie of the year thus far. It’s The Silence of the Lambs with a punk-rock Clarice. The Swedes know how to make great films, and this is in the same vein of gripping genre genius as Let the Right One In.”

I blew off a Dragon Tattoo screening late yesterday afternoon in order to catch Noah Baumbach‘s brilliant Greenberg, but I’ll catch up with it next Monday. There’s a press junket two days later. The distributor is Music Box Films.

Dragon Tattoo “is 2 1/2 hours long but it zooms right by,” says Ressner. “It’s a combination thriller, feminist tract, journalism crusade and gorefest. The fanboys will go crazy over the title character, a hacker who swings both ways and is so punk she makes Joan Jett look like Cyndie Lauper. It’s a goodie.”

It was reported two months ago that Sony Pictures has optioned the rights for an English-language film adaptation with Steve Zaillian (American Gangster, Schindler’s List) in talks to write the script.

Dragon Tattoo is based on the first of the crime-thriller trilogy by late Swedish journalist-activist Stieg Larsson.

The story “follows Mikael Blomqvist, a disgraced journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, a bisexual female hacker with Asperger’s syndrome, investigating the 40-year-old disappearance of a industrialist’s niece on a remote island,” wrote Dark HorizonsGarth Franklin. “They uncover religious killings, Nazism, rape, child abuse and murder.

“The next two novels deal with a conspiracy within the government dating back to the Cold War. All three books have scored rave critical reviews, especially for the Salander character who’s considered one of the most compelling female characters of modern fiction.”