By Jordan Peterson | @thefilmmajor
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Release date: October 20, 2017
Rated: R (for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity)
Running time: 1 hr. 59 min.
Before the movie even hit theaters, director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) was already dissing his own film, a murder mystery called The Snowman based on the best-selling Scandinavian novel of the same name by Jo Nesbo.
Alfredson claimed the production in Norway was rushed and consequently “10-15%” of the film was not shot. Unfortunately, that only begins to scratch the surface of some of this film’s more peculiar ailments.
Take, for instance, Michael Fassbender’s Harry Hole (what? That’s his name!). He’s a scowling detective whom we’re supposed to buy as brilliant but tortured (aren’t they all?). The tortured angle is easy enough to stomach. He’s constantly passing out drunk in public, disappointing his would-be step-son, and taking other people’s’ belongings (in other words, he’s a shitty dude).
What’s not such an easy sell is all the stuff about Harry being a cop of many merits. For most of the movie, my eyes were watery from laughing so hard at how amateurish this “legendary” detective acted (there’s a scene where Harry is completely bewildered at how alike the crude stick figure drawing of a snowman the police received from the killer seems to be to one of the actual snowmen found at the scene of a crime, as if he’d never before seen a snowman in his life). Once Harry does finally figure out the unimpressive twist, I’d already been waiting half a film for him to catch up.
It doesn’t help matters that Harry’s partner Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson) is just as basic and inept. She’s the young, spitfire officer who wants to solve the case for reasons that hit close to home. The problem is that her methods are laughably immoral and unprofessional and not in the compelling, vigilante kind of way. She simply goes places and witnesses crucial events without ever informing anybody just so certain, meaningless events can unfold later.
The big stink of all this is that Harry and Katrine’s relationship ultimately means squat by the time credits roll. At the heart of any strong buddy-cop film are those reluctant bonding sessions shared between unlikely partners. Though The Snowman has its share of similar scenes, the script seems to hit the reset button on everybody come the end of the film. Nobody seems truly affected by what transpired.
Perhaps the most peculiar letdown here is the Snowman killer himself. Not only is his/her identity blandly obvious by halfway through, but the marketing for this film promised a grim, cat-n-mouse thriller. The sad truth is that the police receive one letter from the killer (they don’t even explore any possible motive for such an action). That’s as much play as their is between cop and criminal.
And don’t get me started on the cartoony methodology behind taking the time after a murder to build a snowman.
Verdict: 🎃 (out of four)
Did you get a chance to check out The Snowman? If so, what were your thoughts? Did you read the book? Is it worth picking up? I want to hear from you, so hit me up in the comments below!