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The Snowman (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

The Snowman


Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, JK Simmons, Jonas Karlsson, Toby Jones, Chloë Sevigny, Michael Yates, Ronan Vibert, David Dencik, Genevieve O’Reilly, James D’Arcy, Jeté Laurence, Adrian Dunbar, Jakob Oftebro, Leonard Heinemann, Sofia Helin, Peter Dalle and Anne Reid.

Screenplay by Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan.

Directed by Tomas Alfredson.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 119 minutes. Rated R.

The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson, exceeded all of my expectations, in the very worst ways. In spite of a decent cast (Michael Fassbender, Academy Award Winner J.K. Simmons, Chloë Sevigny, Val Kilmer) and production team (including Martin Scorsese), this movie falls to new depths of awful.

I was not surprised to find out that The Snowman is the movie adaptation of a book (with the same title) by Norwegian crime author Jo Nesbø – the seventh novel with main character Harry Hole (and this name is far from the craziest thing in this story). The story was so confusing, jumping around between characters and storylines without giving a fair wag to any, leaving most characters as underdeveloped and immaterial to the plot. It was as if the production team felt compelled to include every character, twist, and story thread from the 438-page novel into a two hour and five-minute movie.

The movie starts by showing the origin story for our future serial killer. A young boy and his mother live in an isolated house, set in the snow and the mountains of Norway. There is nothing around. “Uncle Jonas” pulls up to the house and we quickly learn that this is not a happy relationship. Bad things happen. We see the young boy outside making a super creepy snowman using coffee beans as facial features. Then worse things happen, and the young boy becomes a super creepy serial killer using the snowman as his calling card.

Flash forward to the present time. They introduce Harry Hole, played by Michael Fassbender. He is waking up from yet another alcoholic binge, though we never learn the “why” behind his alcoholism. Through a series of poorly transitioned scenes, we see that he has an ex, who has a son, who he likes and has a fatherly relationship with… but we never really get a sense of any of them. Overall, Fassbender does a fairly good acting job as Harry, but can’t make up for the rest of the messiness.

The movie spends a pretty significant amount of time showcasing the police department’s new technology – a tablet that turns on with fingerprint recognition, stores crime records and can record videos. Harry’s visiting colleague, Katrine Bratt (played by Rebecca Ferguson) uses the technology a lot, but for the most part, the best records are the old paper classified records that Harry keeps stealing from her.

JK Simmons plays Arve (think, Harvey without the H, and the similarities to a certain headline making Harvey does not stop with the name) – a rich philanthropist trying to win the Winter World Cup bid for Oslo. His character was really just a part of a rushed web of characters that never really meant anything to the story.

Chloë Sevigny plays a brief, creepy cameo role as a woman called in missing before she truly goes missing. I wish they had done more with this story line, but again, it was more of a throwaway character role used to forge a connection with other victims.

In the end, I kind of want to read the book because I feel like the underlying story was interesting, just poorly executed in movie form.

In the interest of finding some positives/reasons to consider watching this movie:

Norway is beautiful. The movie was like a giant tourist Vlog for Norway because you needed something beautiful to focus on when you couldn’t discern what the hell they were trying to do with each badly timed scene transition.

Michael Fassbender. See rationale above.

There were some really interesting death scenes made to look like suicides – graphic but well designed.

I don’t suspect this movie will be in the theaters for long, so if you like watching Michael Fassbender, head to the theaters quickly.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: October 20, 2017.

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