REVIEW: The Snowman (2017)

British Theatrical Release Poster – Universal Pictures

The following is a quick review of The Snowman – Directed by Tomas Alfredson

The Snowman is based on Norwegian crime-writer Jo Nesbø’s bestseller of the same name, which was actually released ten years ago. The film follows Harry Hole (played by Michael Fassbender), a well-regarded detective with a serious alcohol problem, who is investigating the disappearance of a woman. When that woman turns up dead, Hole teams up with Katrine Bratt (played by Rebecca Ferguson) to find and stop a Norwegian serial killer who likes to build snowmen.

Tomas Alfredson – the Swedish director behind such films as Låt den rätte komma in and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – has brought us a clumsy Scandinavian noir film with little sense for flair. It is a huge disappointment, considering the project seemed to be in good hands. As the opening credits came up on the screen, I even did a double-take when I saw that Thelma Schoonmaker, one of the most renowned film editors of all-time, had edited the film, even though Claire Simpson, Oscar-winning editor of Platoon, has been listed as the editor elsewhere.

If I were to venture a guess as to why that is, I would presume that something went terribly wrong behind the scenes, and, perhaps, something went wrong in front of the camera as well. All I know is that The Snowman doesn’t look like a film Tomas Alfredson directed or a film that Thelma Schoonmaker edited. I could tell right away that something was off about this film.

The Snowman opens with a prologue revolving around the parents of the serial killer, and that prologue is poorly presented and rather jarring. There is so much about The Snowman that makes it look like a bad and bloated television production unfit for the film’s stellar cast.

For a Scandinavian like me, this film was tough to watch not just because I found it to be fairly dull and a poor representation of Scandinavian noir, but mostly because hearing non-Scandinavian actors like Michael Fassbender, J. K. Simmons, and Chloë Sevigny pronounce Norwegian names as gracefully as I can pronounce French idioms is cringeworthy, at best, and unbearable, at worst.

Speaking of Sevigny, she is one of the great actors in the supporting cast that is completely wasted. The same can be said for, especially, Toby Jones, but also J. K. Simmons to a certain extent. A seemingly very ill Val Kilmer also appears in a role that I won’t reveal in this review, and, most of all, it just made me sad to see him in the few scenes he has. Kilmer’s performance is strange and his dialogue is seemingly overdubbed.

Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Michael Fassbender, sadly, don’t manage to salvage the film either. Fassbender’s character is awkwardly introduced, and, to me, it did feel like we had been thrown into an already established series of films, which makes sense once you realize that The Snowman is the seventh story in Nesbø’s series of novels about Harry Hole.

Tomas Alfredson’s The Snowman is a bland and dull Scandinavian noir film that, all things considered, probably would’ve worked much better on television. The Snowman is an ice-cold and passionless fiasco that manages to waste talent on both sides of the camera.

4.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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