The Snowman - 2017
The Snowman is directed by Tomas Alfredson. The screenplay is based on a book by Jo Nesbø and is written by Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini and Søren Sveistrup. The cast is comprised of Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones and the man that was supposed to be Batman forever, Val Kilmer. The story centers around a serial killer who is obsessed with making snowmen and killing women he disapproves off.
This movie has a lot of talent involved. Tomas Alfredson is the man behind Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and one of my favorite horror movies ever made, Let the Right One In. The source material is based on a successful series of detective novels from Jo Nesbø, and Martin Scorsese was the one who found the story. Michael Fassbender is a proven bonafide actor, with huge performances in Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave and Macbeth. Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation) is an exciting up-in-coming leading actress and Charlotte Gains (Antichrist and Melancholia) is a proven talent. But somehow this movie… it’s… it’s boooring.
I will say something positive before I get too critical regarding this film. There is a lot of snow in this film and cinematographer Dion Beebe and Tomas Alfredson captured it very well. Alright, with that out of the way...
This movie is riddled with technical mistakes, with the biggest being the editing. We cut abruptly from scene to scene without any smooth transition. There are scenes completely missing that are integral to the plot and there are scenes left in that add absolutely nothing to the film. There is a sequence in which Michael Fassbender’s character is laying down on the floor and Charlotte Gains gets on him grinds on him and stops. Nothing to this scene, doesn’t add anything other than the most award looking grinding since my 8th grade reggaetón party. With scenes missing from the overall product (something that I read while researching this film the director said recently in an interview), it leaves you as an audience member trying to connect the dots to an incomplete puzzle.
The Snowman also has an excessive use of voice dubbing and voice over. Val Kilmer plays a detective who investigated similar murders in the past. Apparently, he was recovering from cancer during filming and couldn’t perform his lines. Their workaround was having him stare at people as they talked to him with him just reacting with his eyes, then the camera would abruptly cut to the back of his head and the voice dubbing by another actor would say his lines. I’m in no way going to make fun of his performance, given the backstory of his condition, but it’s an eye and ear sore that complete takes you out of the film. I was completely mesmerized by why his character would just stare at people that would have a one-way conversation and he would just walk away. The voice dubbing and voice over in the film aren’t tied solely to his character, but he is the one that is painfully obvious.
Michael Fassbender plays Harry Hole, a supposedly great detective that has hit rock-bottom. We are never shown he is a great detective or what he did to gain that status among his peers. We are never shown why he has hit rock-bottom and now is a chain-smoking drunk. I kept waiting for it to somehow magically tie in to the main plot or for it to somehow mirror the killer’s backstory. The “We are not so different you and I” cliché many films lean in to. But nope, we got nothing, just a random character trait from a character we never learn anything about outside of the action we see him take in the film.
Finally, we are given the killer’s background in the opening scene of the movie. So, through no fault of ours we know more than the lead character who is investigating these murders. Instead of us learning everything through our lead’s investigation, we know why he’s killing women, we know why he is making snowmen and we know he is man. For almost the entire film you are just waiting for him to catch-up to what we already know 5 minutes into the film. The tone and the pacing also doesn’t help us deal with this fact as it moves at a snail’s pace with little to no exciting events spliced through the run time.
The Snowman is a clunky, boring and completely forgettable crime thriller that fails to leave up to the countless giants that have stood in that genre. With it being 1h 59m long, this movie asks way too much from their audience time with little to nothing in return. Pretty snow on the big screen is why I love movies.
The Snowman is currently playing in theaters. Go outside and make a snowman or Google an image of one. You will have a better time.
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