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The Snowman

The Snowman: Promising Pastiche Thriller Melts into Mess

  • Chloë SevignyMichael Fassbender...
  • CrimeHorror...
  • Tomas Alfredson
reviewed by
Marija Djurovic
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The Snowman: Promising Pastiche Thriller Melts into Mess

Overstuffed and clumsy, nothing makes sense in Tomas Alfredson’s mystery- crime-thriller The Snowman. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, of the Harry Hole detective series, written by Norwegian novelist, Jo Nesbo, coherence and suspense don’t play much of a role in The Snowmen, which fails to utilise its off-and-on-screen promise.

The story is centred on Harry Hole (Fassbender looking like he would rather be elsewhere); a heavy-smoking, heavy-drinking police detective working for the Oslo police department who was once considered a genius amongst his peers; a trait which unfortunately, never really comes through the script.  In addition to not having any new cases to work on, Harry’s personal life is also a mess, with the gloomy detective struggling to maintain control over his self-destructive behaviour with no one else in his life except ex-girlfriend, Rakel (Gainsbourg) and her teenage son, Oleg (Yates).

All of that changes when a young new investigator, Katrine Bratt (Fergusson), enters the picture, with Harry soon being pulled in to help her investigate a mysterious missing-persons case. Thinking nothing of it at first, Harry soon realises that there’s something even more sinister at play here, with the case soon turning into a full-blown murder investigation, involving a number of headless bodies and construction of ominous-looking snowmen which the serial-killer has left behind as clues. 

With the script having been written by established screenwriters, Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Hossein Amini (Drive) and Soren Sveistrup (Danish hit T.V show The Killing) and the filco-edited by frequent Scorsese collaborator, Thelma Schoomaker, it’s astonishing that it all didn’t come together in the end.

Not one single character is convincing and not one plot line is anything other than dully unravelled, with the film overstuffing its already bloated two-hour running time.One too many characters and ill-conceived decoy suspects, their stories never really go anywhere in the end, leaving the audiences with very little to no pay-off as a result.

In addition, the performances from all involved – see Val Kilmer’s bizarre and what appears to be a badly dubbed performance – are equally depraved of any meaning or development; even the always-charismatic and on-point Mr. Fassbender, despite his best efforts, fails to serve his character well. On the plus side, however, the cinematography by Dion Beebe does bring a certain eerie beauty to the film with the icy Norwegian landscapes captured beautifully throughout. 

However, as pretty as the picture may be, it still doesn’t hide the fact The Snowman is just not the interesting and compelling thriller we all expected. Lacking of depth, meaning and character, it’s a terrible shame that, considering the talent involved, The Snowman isn’t simply better.

Like This? Try

Headhunters (2011), The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (2011), Zodiac (2007)

360 Tip

Even director Tomas Alfredson admitted that the movie wasn’t as good as he would have hoped, stating that the reasons behind the film’s poor outcome was a direct result of a rushed production, saying that they didn’t get to shoot 15% of the script.

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