- 29 Dec - 04 Jan, 2019
- 02 Dec - 08 Dec, 2017
Michael Fassbender looks grim, gruff and grimaces as detective Harry Hole (yes, that’s really the character’s name). For some viewers that would be delightful, but when it is only that – and a whole lot of snow – you want more than just Fassbender’s alleged good-looks as this empty crime thriller has no thrills.
Adapted from a Norwegian crime novel of the same name from novelist Jo Nesbø, our lead, Hole is a cigarette-smoking, mostly homeless, car-less detective in the Norwegian police department. He is bored, drinks his night away, and passes out on cold icy places – which is everywhere, considering Norway, its buildings, cars and trees is literally a snow-covered landmass.
Harry comes to his senses when cases about missing women come up. These women were married and mothers, who later come up as murdered, dismembered corpses. At the scene of the crime is a hand-scribbled note with the sketch of a snowman at the bottom; outside the scene of the crime is a hand-made snowman – as if people needed more apparent reminders that it is a serial killer’s work.
Tagging along with Hole is a new detective Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson), as they come across a promiscuous industrialist (J. K. Simmons), a shady doctor (David Dencik), and a lot of Hole’s own family drama. They do it all in perfect English, even though the characters are native Norwegians, living in Norway.
The Snowman looks fantastic in the hands of the cinematographer Dion Beebe (Miami Vice, Collateral, Memoirs of a Geisha); the white snow and aesthetically pleasing shots of roads, dark interiors and big, open, glass windows (which seem to be the norm in Norway). The scenes feel enticing, and emit an ambience of pure lifeless gloom and a certain level of dread. There are some really intelligent visual effect shots – but one has to keep an eye out for them, because they are near invisible.
Apart from the cinematography, the rest of the film is an exercise of patience and determination. The story goes through a lot of meandering side plots that don’t come to fruition – mostly the character breeze through events that lead into nothing. The Snowman is directed by Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and written by Hossein Amini (Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin, Drive) – talented people, both of them.
It does have a revelatory ta-da ending, which is built up from nothing short of a convoluted mess. The movie had the setting and mood for an appealing crime thriller, but it mostly felt that showing snowmen, purposeless sleuthing and rambling story beats would be enough to cover its basic faults – which is, a lack of interest. •
Apart from the cinematography, the rest of the film is an exercise of patience and determination. The story goes through a lot of meandering side plots that don’t come to fruition – mostly the character breeze through events that lead into nothing.