Ok, so I’m supposed to be writing a review for this month’s film review- but I’m genuinely struggling to keep a straight face, let alone to not just crack up laughing. ‘Why?’, you may ask; well, the reason is: this month’s film is The Snowman, and I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard at something so unintentionally funny, in such a long time. Yes, I know what you’re thinking- but isn’t The Snowman that new crime thriller film with what’s-his-name-Fassbender in it? And the answer is yes, it is- but I think the filmmakers have missed a trick here, it really should’ve just been made as an intentional comedy!
It is safe to say that when I heard Swedish Director, Tomas Alfredson (who has made such greats as: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let The Right One In), was going to be taking the helm of this project, I was excited to watch the finished product (despite the fact that Martin Scorsese had been the original Director on board); however the Crime novel, penned by Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbø (which also happens to be the 7th book in the ‘Detective Harry Hole’ series), was not in safe hands- as it turns out.
When I saw The Snowman at the cinema, it should be known that, I desperately tried to focus and follow the thriller as it unravelled, despite the numerous disturbances from the other cinema-goers who just couldn’t stop laughing or talking, throughout. I really did try- even when I wanted to doze off (because, let’s face it, when you’re stuck with icy landscapes, grey tones and mostly dreary lighting, it’s hard to be enthused about what you’re looking at!), but sadly, by the final showdown (lo-and-behold, it took place on a frozen lake), I just couldn’t pretend to take the film seriously anymore. Normally, such disrespectful cinema-goers really do infuriate me, and though they did during my experience watching The Snowman, I couldn’t ultimately hold it against them- theirs is really the only natural reaction to such an unfinished, laughable, mess.
For the record, Alfredson openly admits, because of the limited time they had to shoot, they did not actually film the entire script, leaving 10-15% of it incomplete. I don’t know if this is being openly admitted to in order to make excuses for the poor finished product, or because even Alfredson, himself, feels perturbed at the fact that things were unable to come together in a better way. Frankly (and regardless of what the reason to admitting it was), it’s a miracle- and a testament to the skills of editors: Thelma SchoonmakerScorsese’s long-time editor, and Claire Simpson- that the movie is even somewhat coherent. Most of the subplots (including JK Simmons’ as local politician, Arve Stop), feel overwhelmingly underdeveloped and anticlimactic by the end of the film.
So, other than an alcoholic protagonist, Detective Harry Hole, (played by Michael Fassbender), our narrative follows a recently transferred detective, Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson), who has followed a suspect, Arve Stop, from another city, where she believes he murdered his lover. Or knew who murdered his lover? Or perhaps paid someone to do it? If you sense hesitation here, it’s because I’m still not 100% sure why she was so convinced Arve Stop was the killer, other than her repeatedly saying he is. I’m guessing this 2 + 2 = 5 subplot would make a whole lot more sense if we had that 10 – 15% of script included in the finished product.
There are too many oddities to count in The Snowman, but some of my favourites are the incredibly pointless and awkward scene where Hole’s ex, Rakel (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg), mounts Hole as he lays on the floor (he literally couldn’t care less, it would seem), straddles him passionately (though still completely clothed), and then dismounts him as if nothing happened at all- and this has no relevance to, or impact on, anything else in the film. Another oddity is the character of Detective Rafto (Val Kilmer). Kilmer’s performance is interesting, to say the least, but it may be due more to his battle with oral cancer than any deliberate eccentricity. He still looks and sounds like a cowboy, though- completely out of place, and the acting is ridiculously hammy, but it’s Val Kilmer. At this point, who can tell what’s going on? Everyone has different accents and Chloe Sevigny plays twins- in another completely unnecessary scene. Indeed, there are simply too many oddities to list them all.
On a side note- is it also normal that no houses in Oslo have curtains, blinds or shutters? Literally every home has completely bare windows so the killer can always see in- is this a legitimately Scandinavian thing I’m just hugely unfamiliar with?
Harry Hole (seriously, the name alone is just too much! I mean, come on!), may well have dug himself one too deep in The Snowman, as it will forever be known as one of the worst films of 2017! A barely-cohesive, accidentally funny, sloppy mess of a film. The bad reviews are justified, I assure you. But should you decide that you still want to check it out (and fair play to you for being so open-minded), then I would advise you to read the book first, so that you at least understand better what’s going on. As I’m a searcher of ‘silver linings’, I will say this: this is not a boring film as you will be far too busy trying not to laugh at Harry Hole’s name, the quirks of the characters, trying to figure out what’s going on and what they’ve done with all the curtains- boredom is not a likely outcome. Please though, tread with caution!