‘The Snowman’ Review: Why Would Anyone Subject Themselves To This ?

FIRST IMPRESSION

While the film looks great on screen, there's a laundry list of issues with it. The acting was poor and lacking in any depth or complexity. The writing was long and bogged down with unnecessary backstory.
Acting
Writing
Direction
Cinematography
Music
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The Snowman’s cinematography isn’t enough to save this terribly written and tedious adaptation.

Summary

The Snowman is a narrative centered on author Jo Nesbø’s revered character, Detective Harry Hole (Micheal Fassbender). Hole’s life is a menagerie of loneliness, guilt, alcohol, and frustration. His ex-girlfriend Rakel (Charlotte Gainsbourg) has moved on and is in a new relationship, and the new guy seems to be a good role model for her teenage son, Oleg. The only aspect of his life that seems to have been lacking any upheaval is his detective work, but even that seems to be drying up (due to a lack of homicides in Oslo). Just when things appear to be their bleakest, a letter arrives from someone known as the “The Snowman.” Simultaneously, women start disappearing.

The Snowman

What Worked

Cinematographer Dion Beebe was able to capture the beauty and majestic sites of each shooting location. Beebe has a history of significant work behind the camera. He won an Oscar in 2006 for his work on Memoirs of a Geisha. 

What Didn’t Work

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Fassbender’s performance was lifeless and entirely one dimensional. Detective Hole is a conflicted man who struggles with any number of demons. On screen, the character was void of any depth.

The screenplay was contrived and at times drones on. Why did screenwriters Peter Straughan and Hossein Amini feel driven to include so much background to this story? Audiences are already pushed towards this tale due to the popularity of its source material. The trailer teased a film that was reminiscent of the film Se7en. To even breathe The Snowman in the same sentence as Se7en is an insult to cinephiles around the globe. 

The Detective Rafto (Val Kilmer) storyline is just one big mess. It appears that Straughan and Amini felt there’s some need to explain why one of the third tier characters (from the film) assisted Detective Hole in his investigation. Kilmer’s voice sounds like it was slightly altered (which is fine but at least give him a Norwegian accent). When he appears on the screen, there’s no confusing that he’s in this just for a paycheck.

Arve Stop’s character has little business being in this narrative. Stop (J.K. Simmons) is this sexually deviant philanthropist who is heading up Oslo’s bid to win a major sporting event. His perversions have little to do with the identity of the killer. In fact, audiences will spend most of their time wondering if he is the killer only to find out that his presence is a waste.

Director Tomas Alfredson claims he knows why this movie isn’t doing well with critics. According to “Entertainment Weekly,” he argues that his shoot in Norway was much too short and parts of the story were missing. Was Alfredson leaving Norway just to allow the screenwriters a chance to bog this film down with so much backstory? Was Fassbender so heartbroken about saying goodbye to Oslo that his performance suffered? The director is off base and needs to take responsibility for a mediocre film.

The pacing of the film can only be described as a slog. Endless storylines intertwine with one another leading to confusion and tedium.

Overall

Very rarely does a film fail on nearly all fronts, but The Snowman does just that. Nothing is entertaining about this release, and there is no reason for anyone to waste their time sitting through such an awful film.

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Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.

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