Every so often to sit down to watch a film and leave feeling as though you hadn’t experienced the movie the director had intended you to see. The Snowman is one such film – at least you certainly hope that to be the case, because if this is the film that the director had intended we see, then someone may need to have a quiet word with Tomas Alfredson.
Michael Fassbender plays the leading role of Harry Hole, a self-destructive, alcoholic detective who is investigating the death of a young woman, and Hole believes this could trigger a series of murders, hoping to desperately stop this serial killer in their tracks. He teams up with Katrin Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) who have decades worth of evidence to work on as they strive tirelessly to uncover the identity of their suspect, and time is against them, for when there’s the next snowfall, the nefarious killer is bound to strike again.
Adapted from a Jo Nesbo novel, needless to say the narrative here is not the issue, but the execution of it. It’s not like Alfredson has assembled a collective of mediocre actors to help him tell it either, for joining Fassbender and Fergsuon comes J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Why they all signed up up to the project is one question, but the more prevalent is how this turned into such a disaster. The screenplay doesn’t help, but stilted, unnatural dialogue, breeding various moments that are particularly funny when laughter is most definitely not the intended reaction from the audience. The setting hasn’t been utilised enough either, because if you take Wind River recently, for example, the unforgiving, snowy landscape informed and enriched the tone and sense of isolation in the film, whereas in this instance it barely makes a difference.
The Snowman is just horribly cliched, generic cinema that abides by all the tropes of the thriller, ‘whodunnit’ genre. Now there most certainly can be a sense of comfortability in films that tick boxes, often providing just what the doctor ordered, when all you want to do is indulge in a film that plays out just as you want it to. But with this cast, and with these filmmakers, it’s impossible not to have expected a lot more, and in turn, impossible not to leave feeling underwhelmed when the closing credits roll.