“The Snowman” (2017)
Running Time: 119 minutes
Written by: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan & Søren Sveistrup
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Featuring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, J. K. Simmons
Katrine Bratt: “I think it’s the falling snow that sets the killer off.”
This film should have been a slam-dunk from the outset, an adaptation of one of a series of novels written by superstar author Jo Nesbø, based around his alcoholic cop, Harry Hole, set in Norway within its breathtaking landscape and isolation. It had a stellar cast that any director would kill for, that would draw immediate attention to the film, ensuring that it would have the best chance of success. Speaking of directors “The Snowman” (2017) has at its helm a very good one in Tomas Alfredson, who had made an impact with his first major international hit “Let the right one in” (2008) following that up with the Oscar nominated remake as well as new adaptation of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (2011). Unfortunately the wheels came off this production before it even started with a script that was not completed as well as timing issues with cast members and funding issues for what really is a modest production. The writing was on the wall for “The Snowman”, it was all bad which may spell the end for any more Harry Hole stories in the immediate future.
“The Snowman” should have been a mid level adult thriller about a serial killer as well as the character of Harry Hole who sets out to catch him after being tormented by him. Alfredson had so much good will after his last film (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”) that he seemed like the logical choice to make this big screen adaptation, with a large international cast, hopefully balancing performance with tension, introducing an audience to a new flawed hero that would serve as the first in a line of movies for years to come. However after a failed start by Martin Scorsese, who serves as a producer in name only on this film, it seemed that this new director would be able to right the ship, but he has failed, delivering a mess that makes little sense, does not follow through on many plots or characters and wastes talent hand over fist.
“The Snowman” is all about Harry Hole (Fassbender), an elite crime squad’s lead detective, investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer nicknamed “The Snowman” may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Ferguson), the detective must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.
Going into viewing this movie I was willing to give it a good chance, I mean how bad could this film be, really? Well the answer is very bad, of course the cast is just amazing, which goes a long way to understanding how good the source material is, as well as explaining that there was a good movie here somewhere. In the main role we have charismatic leading man Michael Fassbender who after many failed movies over the last few years looked to be onto a winner, as well as a character audiences could come to know, however this was a giant misstep for him as with such a flawed film it damaged his reputation as a solid leading man as well as someone audiences can trust to be in a good film – such a missed opportunity. This is not saying this is his fault, but maybe he needs to rethink his quality control so that these types of projects pass him by. The rest of the cast is made up of Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, J. K. Simmons, Toby Jones, James Darcy, Adrian Dunbar and Chloë Sevigny all either given tiny parts, their plot threads left dangling or used in baffling ways that also impact on what this movie is trying to be, but ends up being less than the sum of its parts. These actors are all so talented that it is painful to see them misused in so many ways that are frankly baffling to me.
To address the direction as well as the screenplay is an exercise in futility, the film begins with a tacked on beginning which half way through becomes boring adding little to what is to follow. There is supposed to be some deeper meaning within but honestly it lacks any real cohesive elements, which is something it has in common with the rest of the movie. There are actual characters introduced that once you follow their progression and their journey you realize pretty quickly that they make appearances for what must have been a completely different film. In fact even the killings that should be a progression of the plot seem pointless as well as, in some cases death is the only way any of the actors can be released from this off the rails movie. The logic to the movie seems to be make no sense either as characters make decisions that defy logic not only for people in real life but even for movie logic.
There may be a tendency to see this film advertised to either purchase, rent or stream, however you will not be able to get the time back after watching it, and there are so many better versions of this film around at the moment. “The Snowman” is a serious exercise in futility as you watch it you may think it will get better, but it doesn’t, it starts bad and finishes that way as well. Once the end credits roll the inconsistencies as well as the plot holes, logical holes and the waste of talented people will hit you, and it should make you mad as the effort put into making this film has been a waste – there are not many movies that are made like this one anymore. In the 1980s and 1990s there were an abundance of adult thriller with great casts that served audiences as well as making real money but studios stopped making them, instead focusing on mega budgeted franchise films. Of late there have been a few mid level thrillers made, but if more end up like “The Snowman” then they will cease to be made and we will have to put up with more standard vanilla blockbusters instead of something smarter which is what we need.
In saying all of that please don’t waste your time and money with “The Snowman” it does not deserve it one iota.
“The Snowman” is out now on DVD & Blu-ray.