Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s novel The Snowman falls short of our expectations. The signs were promising; Alfredson’s career as a director, a great murder story from an acclaimed Scandinavian author and an outstanding cast. However, something went very wrong.
In the cold and snowy Oslo, detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) investigates the mysterious disappearance of a mother, which oddly resembles cold cases happened all over Norway. With the help of the brilliant newbie Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), he will start a hunt that will lead him to unexpected conclusions.
If you were expecting a dark and disturbing Scandinavian thriller in the vein of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo be ready for a gigantic disappointment. The main issue is the poorly focused plot; the investigation of the two detectives leads them to cold cases that require flashbacks, involving several suspects and storylines that do not stay together properly. This is partly because, as Variety has written, there is little investigation involved in the movie. Overall, the first half of the movie is spent struggling to find the logic in the numerous character and trails the two detectives are following. The second half is simply boring, as it becomes clear that nothing is going to make sense.
There are certain movies that still work in spite of a weak screen play, primarily because everything else (photography, editing, directory) is on point. This is not the case with The Snowman. This is unexpected, as Alfredson is the director of acclaimed films such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let the Right One In. The direction is excessively focused on icy Norwegian landscapes, and on scenes that supposedly give character to Fassbender’s Harry Hole; these scenes are not visually ugly, but they distract the viewer from focusing on the mystery.
Similarly, the cast is made up of usually reliable performers: Michael Fassbender, Chloe Sevigny and Charlotte Gainsbourg are all outstanding actors who have showed their skill in other films. However, their characters are not developed enough to allow great performances.
The evident failure of The Snowman has been acknowledged by the director himself. In an interview, he has explained how the lack of time to shoot in Norway stopped certain scenes from being shot. Indeed, while watching the movie you have the sense that something is missing: from in depth analysis of the characters to a proper mystery that connects the various random events.
The Snowman is in cinemas nationwide now. Image source: Indiewire.com