The Snowman (2017)
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini, Soren Sveistrup
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jonas Karlsson, Michael Yates, Ronan Vibert, J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer
The Snowman film, based on the best-selling novel by author Jo Nesbo, has all the makings of a fantastic crime thriller. The cast is an extraordinary one consisting of A-Listers such as Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones and Val Kilmer. The premise of a cat-and-mouse game between an elite detective (Fassbender) and a vicious and elusive serial killer who is triggered by the first snowfall sounds exciting. The exotic backdrop of Norway and beautiful scenes shown throughout the film hold a decorative yet unsettling thrall for the viewer. Sadly, all of these elements fail to save the incoherent and jumbled story of the movie itself. This is a film I was anxious to see, somewhat glad I saw, but still felt somehow very disappointed by the end product.
Michael Fassbender as the lead (Harry Hole – yes, that’s the character’s name) gives a stoic but sincere performance as a brilliant detective who struggles with alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, while we are given examples of his alcoholism, we are merely left to understand, through some weak dialogue, about the brilliant detective part. That seems to be the theme of the movie – some jumbled scenes and a line or two of dialogue to establish the motives and backstory of the main characters. This, unfortunately, doesn’t help the audience to really feel invested in any of the players that we are randomly introduced to throughout the film. Some characters almost feel as though they were added as an afterthought to help shore up the shaky storyline and force it forward. Val Kilmer and Toby Jones are especially underutilized as a means of giving Rebecca Ferguson‘s character some sort of motivation in the case of Kilmer and then as a means to provide a bit of much-needed exposition to Fassbender’s character in the case of Jones.
J.K. Simmons shows up as part of an almost secondary plot which never quite runs fully tangent to the main narrative. While his portrayal of his character is fantastic, it once again feels like he doesn’t NEED to be there due to the rambling plot and sloppy story which feels like it’s just all over the map. Towards the end, the movie makes a desperate attempt to pull the meandering threads together but it’s too little too late for my tastes. Having not read the original novel on which the film is based, I can only assume that the fault rests with Peter Straughan for the screenplay adaptation or with Tomas Alfredson‘s direction. There were even several quick scenes that I questioned the reasoning as to why they were included at all. The real letdown came at the end with how the killer is finally stopped. I understand the symmetry perhaps, but the finale doesn’t do much in the way of making it feel like our hero won the day. (You’ll understand when you see it.) If you’re a Fassbender fan (and who isn’t) then you may still want to check this movie out this weekend. Otherwise, you may want to hold off until it hits Netflix or Redbox.