As the film was released this past Friday, word oozed out that it was in contention for the title of the worst film of 2017. Rather shocking as it is loaded with talent in the form of its cast – Michael Fassbender, JK Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, and Rebecca Ferguson. To up the intrigue level, Val Kilmer is also part of the ensemble. Looking and sounding quite differently after his battle with throat cancer. The film is based upon a best selling novel by Jo Nesbo. His crime series featuring Harry Hole are extremely popular. The film (as I write) has an embarrassing 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. What goes wrong? I am here to tell you plenty.
First of all it takes eons for anything to happen. I know that it takes time, especially in the crime genre, to set things up, but not too long. It is a delicate ask though not an impossible one. About 45 minutes in at the premiere screening I turned to my friend and inquired as to when the billed (in the trailers) horror was going to start and she grumpily replied “when is anything going to happen?” Harsh, but the truth. Tomas Alfredson’s (Let The Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – 2011) film limps along with little build up and certainly no pay off.
We are introduced to police detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender – Shame, 12 Years a Slave) as he is sleeping off a drunk outdoors in what seems to be a park. The drunk is actually a revered investigator in the elite crime squad in Oslo. After getting a rather ominous note in the post with a tiny snowman drawn on the bottom, Harry is teamed up with new recruit, Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson – The Girl on the Train, Florence Foster Jenkins), who is working on a cold case involving the disappearance of the wife of Frederik Aasen (Adrian Dunbar – My Left Foot, The Crying Game) and maybe lover of wealthy businessman Arve Stop (J.K. Simmons – Whiplash, La La Land). She is sure Stop is behind the disappearance and is a serial killer as several other unsolved disappearances of women.
Harry is also convinced there is something going on after Birte Becker (Genevieve O’Reilly – Matrix Revolutions, Rogue One) also disappears. Katrine points out to Harry that all the disappearances happen when a snow fall is happening. Then another woman (Chloe Sevigny – Love & Friendship, Last Days of Disco) disappears. Harry and Katrine work feverishly to figure things out before the next snow fall.
A waste of talent. That is how to best sum up The Snowman. The film is a mixture of an untelligible storyline and sad cliches. Despite all the acting talent lined up it does not pan out in the end. Sabotaged by poor script by Peter Straughan (Frank, The Men Who Stare at Goats), Soren Sveistrup (co-wrote most episodes of the television series The Killing) and Hossein Amini (47 Ronin, Snow White and the Huntsman) and unfathomable directing decisions by Alfredson. The director even came out recently and said because of the tight schedule that he did not film some scenes. What? That explains the reason the film is barely coherent.
There is no clear direction here. You are never sure where it is going. In the end it ends up being practically nowhere. You feel like they are totally flying by the seat of their pants and not too sure of their direction. Not a good quality in a film. Then when it gets to the end it is so laughable with the killer explaining everything you cannot help but laugh out loud.
At a certain point I began to wonder if this was meant to be a farce. Could it? Dunno. I have a hard time explaining what I saw.