Ah, the Scandinavian noir-thriller, a BBC4 staple, the type of prestige show Mum and Dad recommend each time you catch up. Hyper-stylish, immensely clever and completely engrossing – safe to say, one of the breakout genres of the 2010s. Much of the form’s success can be attributed to the popularity of authors such as Stieg Larsson (the Millennium trilogy) and the godfather of Nordic crime writing himself, Jo Nesbø, who here has his work in an English-language motion picture for the first time.
… And he should think long and hard about giving out his material next time.
On paper, The Snowman should be one of the year’s best, helmed by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s Tomas Alfredson and starring Michael Fassbender with an immensely strong supporting cast, featuring an Oscar winner in J.K. Simmons and indie stalwarts Chloë Sevigny and Charlotte Gainsbourg – but it truly misses its mark.
Fassbender plays Harry Hole, an unenthused, downtrodden detective in the mire of alcoholism and desperate for a case to bring him purpose – before becoming embroiled in the search for a serial killer leaving bodies by anthropomorphic snow structures (snowmen, if you will). What transpires across the film’s near two-hour run time is a confusing amalgamation of dual flashback storylines and curious plot devices.
Alfredson gained plaudits for his beautifully original horror Let the Right One In but he relegates himself to aping Fincher here, with all the facts but none of the flavour of the American’s work. Save for a few markedly horrific set pieces, both direction and screenplay give fans of the much-loved Hole series plenty of reasons to feel disappointed with his first movie outing.
A major misfire for all involved and a huge blotch on some immensely respectable CVs, The Snowman ends its life as a puddle of plot-holes and wasted talent.
CAST: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, Chloë Sevigny, J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg
DIRECTOR: Tomas Alfredson
WRITERS: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan, Søren Sveistrup (screenplay), Jo Nesbø (novel)
SYNOPSIS: Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.