Movie: THE SNOWMAN
Rating: R, grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Jeanne: Citing an abbreviated preparation and shooting schedule, director Tomas Alfredson, who has helmed such notable films as "Let the Right One In" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", defends the disjointed and lackluster adaptation of Jo Nesbø's crime novel "The Snowman". But, if you follow my reviews, you know that I believe a great deal of blame also falls to the writers.
In this case, Nesbø's work was penned for the screen by Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan and Søren Sveistrup. And despite the stellar cast, the screenplay falls flat, giving this A-list group little to emote. And, oddly enough, Michael Fassbender, who plays the main character, police detective Harry Hole, renders a rather dismal performance, something highly unusual for him.
We meet Harry after what must have been a particularly nasty bender. He awakens in a tiny hut on a children's playground on the eve of the season's first snowfall in Oslo, Norway. How he didn't freeze to death is a mystery --- perhaps too much alcohol in his system.
Harry is a mess. He's an obvious drunk, with an ex-girlfriend, Rakel Fauske (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who's the mother of a rebellious teenage son, Oleg (Michael Yates). She's currently in a relationship with a plastic surgeon, Mathias (Jonas Karlsson), but neither of these lovers is Oleg's father. Harry tries very hard to fill that need, but he's always falling short. He blames his busy work schedule, but it's really more than that.
A series of recent disappearances captures the attention of Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), the newest member of Harry's team. Women, who in some way have perceivably hurt or abandoned their children, have gone missing. Eventually, parts of their bodies are turning up, and the pressure mounts on Harry and Katrine to find the killer.
In addition to the members of the cast already mentioned, such notables as J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones, Chloë Sevigny, James D'Arcy and even Val Kilmer are present. Kilmer, who was once so handsome, looks almost frightening --- and his speech is garbled, at best. Though his persona fits his character, who is a hardened, crazy detective, it still seems a strange choice.
The overall outcome of "The Snowman" is definitely disappointing. Parts of this movie are gripping --- and even terrifying --- but the script and Alfredson's direction never capitalize on those moments. One intriguing sequence showcases Sevigny portraying twins, Sylvia and Ane. Sylvia resides in a distinctly remote location, the perfect set-up for a lingering, thrilling pattern of events. Instead, the terror is truncated, never allowing the full potential of the scene to be realized.
"The Snowman" does boast two very effective elements --- spectacular cinematography by Dion Beebe and a brilliant score by Marco Beltrami. If the rest of the components had matched, "The Snowman" could have been the thriller it was meant to be.
Opinion: Wait for DVD
David: A serial killer is on the loose in Norway, and it is up to detectives Harry Hole and Katrine Bratt to stop him. That is the gist of "The Snowman", based on the characters created by Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø.
The movie stars Michael Fassbender as Hole and Rebecca Ferguson as Bratt, plus a fine supporting cast which includes J.K. Simmons as a wealthy phony who wants Oslo to get the next Olympics, Val Kilmer, looking nothing like his former movie-star-handsome self, as a hard-drinking police detective, and Chloë Sevigny as twin sisters. You may also recognize Charlotte Gainsbourg, the sex-starved star of the dual "Nymphomaniac" films from 2013.
"The Snowman" is certainly suspenseful, in parts, at least, and features a great soundtrack by double Oscar nominee Marco Beltrami, and superb cinematography by Oscar winner Dion Beebe. It is also quite gory, and not for the squeamish.
The killer uses a perfectly horrific --- but very effective --- tool for separating victims from their body parts. One character's severed head looks painfully real. The special effects are gruesomely extraordinary.
I found the plot a bit confusing with its myriad of characters, then and now --- Jeanne had no problem, never does --- but it is all explained in the end. The film is completely bereft of humor or any lighter moments, understandable, though, given that the story centers around a brutal and sadistic murderer.
Opinion: Wait for DVD