The Snowman, based on the novel written by Jo Nesbo, is a crime thriller about a serial killer who leaves snowmen at the scenes of the crime as a calling card. Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson play the detectives charged with capturing this long time killer.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), there was some initial excitement when The Snowman went into production. Then came an excellent trailer, which appeared to have a David Fincher-esque style, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sensibilities.
Unfortunately the final product has none of that. It is a complete mess.
The novel, although a classic airport read, is certainly a page turner. The story is at times pulpy, but with the amount of talent assembled, this should have been a compelling film. However, it appears Alfredson didn’t even get to film the entire script.
Alfredson has recently come out and said that around 15% of the script went unfilmed, and therefore it is little wonder that none of The Snowman seems to make sense. The Snowman had spent nearly two years in post-production, with Thelma Shoonmaker in the cutting room trying to piece together the story, but what we have is a convoluted clutter of scenes. However, the entire blame cannot be placed on the lack of material, although that is the root for many of the issues. Alfredson’s stylistic approach to numerous scenes will leave you scratching your head as you try to make sense of camera movements. Alfredson has put the blame on the schedule, which he says was too tight. However, if that is the case, then you have to change the way you film. This is not Alfredson’s first film, and is something he should have realized sooner into production.
Fassbender and Ferguson are for the most part fine. Neither of their characters are particularly fleshed out, and Fassbender’s Harry Hole (pronounced Hoola) does very little detective work. The supporting cast is baffling. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays an old flame of Hole, despite having no chemistry with Fassbender. Val Kilmer has all of his lines dubbed over by another voice as he obviously had trouble speaking his lines.
One of the biggest problems with the majority of the characters stems from the fact that The Snowman is the 7th novel in the Harry Hole series by Nesbo, but is the first to be adapted to screen. There is little development of Hole & co. in the novel because the work has already been done. The three screenwriters for the film must not have read any of the previous novels as they have no idea who Hole is, and therefore they rely on the tired cliche of the hard drinking detective.
Perhaps the most egregious misstep is the open ended finale to the film which is clearly meant as a set up for a future sequel. No thank you.
Thankfully The Snowman has already melted from the box office, and will be forgotten soon.