Quality of the finished product aside, The Snowman is undoubtedly an informative piece about Norse culture. For example, I would say a vast majority of people coming to see this movie probably had no idea that everyone in Oslo sounded like American actors trying to sound British.
Based on Jo Nesbo’s gripping 2007 thriller of the same name and directed by Tomas Alfredson (Of Let The Right Ones In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy fame), the movie centers on the ingeniously named “Harry Hole” (Played by Michael Fassbender). Hole is a wayward, and slightly alcoholic detective who goes out of his way to seek out a serial killer dubbed “The Snowman” due to the fact at the scene of each one of his murders, he builds an actual Snowman as a calling card. While working on the case with his new partner (Rebecca Ferguson), he also needs to come to terms with his failed relationship and his estranged family as he tries to reconnect with his son in the process.
The general pacing of the movie feels off; it almost feels like it’s more of a character study of Hary Hole more than anything else which is unfortunately to the movie’s detriment as the characterisation of the protagonist is the weakest point of the film. Instead of being a fully fleshed out character Harry Hole just feels a whole connection of cop cliches all grouped to craft some personality. A cynical, alcoholic cop is hardly breaking new ground, and Harry Hole isn’t exactly breaking new ground. The very first scene we see him in, he’s passed out ion a bench in a children’s park in a drunken stupor. And it just feels somewhat phoned in, and as a result Harry Hole’s struggles come across as dull and nothing we haven’t seen before, and putting all that aside Harry Hole isn’t that unique or charismatic a character to hold audiences attention, as the very center of the film he comes across as quite a dull character. The Snowman’s pitfalls are the same ones that similarly crippled the The Dark Tower. The Snowman is a book that took six previous novels to build up to, so director Alfredson has the unenviable task of trying to shoehorn in six books worth of development which results in a narrative that seems rushed and stripped of any real depth.
The movie is also poorly paced with less emphasis put into the murder mystery and more into a character study on Harry Hole more than anything else. To the point where the murderer doesn’t show up until the last few minutes of the movie, and until then the film seems oddly fixated on a bizarre subplot regarding Oslo’s bid for the winter Olympics. That takes up an alarming amount of the movie and doesn’t go anywhere. So the whole film feels disjointed and clunky in general.
Fassbender is serviceable in his role and tries to work with what he’s been given but with a lacklustre, boring plot, a wooden supporting cast. It doesn’t stand out as a movie you’d ever be guilty of not getting excited about this movie.
The Snowman is on general release now