The Girl franchise has long held an uneasy relationship between the way it balances its exploration of trauma -- Lisbeth is an assault survivor -- and its potboiler elements. (In reviewing Fincher's version, the New York Times' A.O. Scott wrote that it handles sexual violence "with queasy, teasing sensationalism.") Here, those two poles are highlighted in the movie's twist, which finds Lisbeth reunited with her sister Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks). In a prologue, we see Lisbeth escape from their abusive father, leaving Camilla behind. Later, it's revealed that Camilla took over their dad's criminal organization, the cruelty she suffered turning her into a villain with a penchant for sleek red suits and a ghostly pallor, hellbent on world destruction. "Just by knowing that she's her sibling, you know they have established the same upbringing, the same challenges that come with having the parents that they did," Foy adds. "And the same tragedy that results in that." There's an uncomfortable sadness lingering under Camilla's ludicrous machinations. But these are beats that Alvarez largely overlooks in favor of more world's gonna blow up hijinks.
There's a reason Lisbeth makes such a good Claire Foy character. Since Foy became a star, she's excelled at playing women who are forced to wear masks -- either out of their own volition or because of their place in society. Even as Elizabeth remains utterly poised in The Crown, you can read fear or frustration behind that demeanor. In First Man, Janet Armstrong emotes more than her withholding husband Neil, but she still must play the supportive wife, even when his silence causes a rift between them. (When she lets loose, calling the NASA astronauts a "bunch of boys," it's thrilling.) She began the year with Steven Soderbergh's Unsane playing a woman trying to keep up appearances while being gaslit by a stalker. And then, of course, there is Lisbeth, who wears her hardened gaze like armor, in on her own jokes.
"Stoic" is a word that gets thrown out a lot when talking about Foy and her creations. Asked what interests her in portraying that reserved calm, she responds: "I think that it's survival really, I find. I think it's their struggle to exist, I suppose, in whatever way there is. I think that's a very truthful thing. I think everybody is struggling to find their way anyway. That's what makes drama, is when you see people going against their better judgement to find their way through a difficult situation."