So this film was already climbing an uphill battle. Between Martin Scorsese dropping out as director to the new director Tomas Alfredson revealing that they didn’t shoot 10-15% of the script, The Snowman just seemed to be a lost cause from the beginning. Regardless, the cast and acclaimed novel it was based on intrigued me, so here we are.
Synopsis: For Detective Harry Hole, the death of a young woman during the first snowfall of winter feels like anything but a routine homicide. His investigation leads him to “The Snowman Killer,” an elusive sociopath who continuously taunts Hole with cat-and-mouse games. As the vicious murders continue, Harry teams up with a brilliant recruit to try and lure the madman out of the shadows before he can strike again. (Universal Pictures)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and Charlotte Gainsbourg
Writers: Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini, and Soren Sveistrup
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Rating: 18A (Canada)/R (USA)
Running Time: 119 minutes
For showtimes and more, check out The Snowman on movietimes.com.
Right off the bat let’s get straight to the elephant in the room. Who in their right mind names the protagonist of their very serious crime novel series Harry Hole? In what world do you not expect people to chuckle or scoff every time they hear your character’s name said? One can only assume his disheveled adult personality is a result of childhood bullying over his name.
And that’s just the surface issue of this very fragile film that easily shatters with any amount of logical thought. It’s supposedly a crime thriller that focuses on a serial killer who resurfaces in Norway that creates a signature snowman at crime scenes. The only problem with that is this crime story has absolutely no tension. The narrative drags itself along, constantly setting up plot yet never delivering. It wants to come across as a crime thriller and yet there are next to no thrills or chills.
The story isn’t the only issue with the writing as we are presented with a cast of very boring, one-dimensional and underdeveloped characters. It is a shock how much Fassbender and Ferguson were able to do with the limited characters they were given. Those two performances are perhaps the only saving graces for this film, and yet they are still sub-par in comparison to their other work.
Tonally the film is all over the place thanks to some odd choices of editing, unnecessary or shortened scenes and subplots that make the film worse than it already is. Actors like J.K. Simmons and Val Kilmer seem almost pointless in the grand scheme of things, with Kilmer’s performance being very hard to watch. He does have cancer so perhaps that is part of the reason for dubbing his lines afterwards, but his dialogue is too loud in the sound mixing and it doesn’t line up with his lip movement. That kills a film.
And a very nit-picky thing about this film is the fact that it’s set in Norway and yet every character speaks with a British accent. I get Harry Hole isn’t Norwegian given his surname, but you’re saying that every character is British? It’s these little things that the director thinks are fine that ruin a film.
Overall, The Snowman is a dull, dragging crime drama that takes a best-selling crime novel and all-star cast and completely wastes them. The unsuspenseful, uneventful and uninteresting story is rivaled by equally boring characters, editing and a confusing performance, which makes this film send shivers down your spine in all the wrong ways.
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