Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Snowman (2017)

I have read one book, so far, by writer Jo Nesbø. It was, I believe, the book that really launched Nesbø to another level of popularity. I loved it. Many people loved it. It was a great thriller, with almost every chapter ending on a cliffhanger. Despite not being the fast reader I used to be in my youth, I tore through the book in no time at all.

A film of the book seemed like a good idea. Having Tomas Alfredson directing it seemed like a very good idea. He had already done such great work recently with two previous theatrical releases that successfully translated written works to the big screen (Let The Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Michael Fassbender in the lead role? Sold.

Fassbender plays Detective Harry Hole, a man who spends his time self-medicating with alcohol when he is not being kept busy with murder cases. Having not been kept all that busy for a while now, he finds himself challenged when a killer known as the snowman starts to taunt the police, revealing a pattern of female victims abducted during periods of snowfall.

What you may have already heard about The Snowman is very true. It's a complete mess. Not messy as in "dammit, why does every action sequence directed by Michael Bay need to have 50 edits in every minute of film?" but messy as in a way that makes you wonder where entire sequences have disappeared to. It's so disjointed and unsatisfying that it barely qualifies as an actual movie, feeling more like a montage of snowy noir moments.

Fassbender isn't bad in the main role, and Rebecca Ferguson tries to do her best with the material given to her. The rest of the cast includes Charlotte Gainsbourg (who I tend to dislike in most films anyway), Jonas Karlsson, J. K. Simmons, Val Kilmer, Chloe Sevigny, James D'arcy. I could tell you how some of these characters figure in the plot, but there wouldn't be much point. They appear as and when necessary, and disappear just as abruptly.

Writers Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini, and Søren Sveistrup obviously liked the central idea. Who wouldn't? It's unfortunate, then, that they are unable to craft a worthy narrative around some of the story beats and visual motifs. It's almost as if the screenplay was handed over to Alfredson with only a handful of the main scenes written or someone decided to take the final product and edit it into an incomprehensible mess. I've seen many films even worse than this, but few major mainstream releases have been released in such a mind-bogglingly shoddy state.

Maybe best enjoyed by people who have never read the book, although god knows how they would make ANY sense of the plot (despite having read it, I could barely figure out the unfolding storyline), The Snowman is bad, and not the kind of bad that can make your viewing experience a fun one. It's just plain bad.


I guess you could get the film here.
Or, in America, you can get it here.

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