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‘The Snowman’ (review by Leyla Mikkelsen)

Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner,
Robyn Slovo, Peter Gustafsson
Screenplay by Hossein Amini,
Peter Straughan, Søren Sveistrup
Based on The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson,
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, J. K. Simmons,
Toby Jones, Chloë Sevigny, James D’Arcy


So-called Nordic Noir has been all the rage in recent years, with crime drama shows such as The Killing and The Bridge thrilling and chilling audiences across the globe with that specifically Scandinavian brand of incredibly dark, but highly realistic mystery.  Aside from the popular TV shows, books by authors such as Jo Nesbø have been equally successful, and it was therefore only a question of time before one of Nesbø’s stories about detective Harry Hole would be adapted for either the small or the big screen.

In the cinematic adaptation of The Snowman, Michael Fassbender portrays Harry Hole, the protagonist of several of Nesbø’s books, and Rebecca Ferguson plays his crime-solving counterpart as Katrine Bratt in a production lead by director Tomas Alfredson, effectively marrying talent of both Hollywood and Scandinavia alike.

Since the film features a cast of competent actors and is directed by the man who has previously helmed critically acclaimed features such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let The Right One In, it should therefore be easy to hit the mark and satisfy fans of this particular type of thriller. However, aside from the icy scenery of Norway during winter time serving as a beautiful backdrop, The Snowman is an incredibly tedious affair, suffering from a severe case of cinematic frostbite. The performances are unengaging, with the cast looking either bored or lost, as if they either knew they were underutilized or that they did not receive sufficient direction.

The biggest culprit, however, is undoubtedly the editing, which is what truly puts the film’s chances of succeeding on ice. Throughout its nearly two hour runtime, the editing serves no other purpose than to ensure that The Snowman is an incoherent, bland mess that is criminally lacking in the suspense department.

It should also be noted that as good as the source material is, even in the case of something as intriguing as The Snowman, there is always that issue of lifting imagery that is unnerving on the page and making it unnerving on the screen as well. Much like the hedge animals that spring to life in Stephen King’s The Shining are very eerie on the page, I think we can all agree that it was one of the better omissions Kubrick made when he took significant creative liberties for his adaptation of King’s book. Likewise, where the appearance of the killer’s snowmen outside his victims’ homes are ominous on the page, they entirely lack any unsettling punch in the film.

Arguably, yours truly does find an unhealthy amount of enjoyment in the ridiculousness vessel that is Jack Frost: The Mutant Killer Snowman, however, while my connotations are undoubtedly tainted by a 1997 cheese fest, the plentiful chuckles several of the snowman scenes generated from the audience would suggest that the snowman imagery was simply not handled well enough to have the desired effect on the audience.

Considering how much success Nordic crime drama productions and penmanship has had outside Scandinavia in recent years, the film adaptation of The Snowman is an avalanche of tonal and narrative letdowns that serves as a reminder that all good things must inevitably come to an end.

Thus, while winter may be coming in terms of the seasons, should you against better judgment decide to go see The Snowman, the only thing you should brace yourself for is an overwhelming sense of disappointment.


Verdict: 3 out of 10.




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