It’s very rare you’ll be alone in a movie theater but that was how I found myself today when I sat down to watch “The Snowman;” and I’m thankful no one else was there to endure what I had to.
“The Snowman” stars Michael Fassbender as an alcoholic detective named Harry Hole (I am absolutely not making that up). After a series of murders involving women and snowmen, Harry has to find the killer. If this all sounds dumb it’s because it is. Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer(!!) and J. K. Simmons also star as Swedish director Tomas Alfredson directs.
The trailers for this didn’t look very good and the posters and title of the film almost made it look like a comedy that is playing off detective mysteries. “Jack the Ripper” and “The Zodiac” are chilling names of serial killers; “The Snowman Killer” is not. But still, I love me some Fassbender and the rest of the cast is impressive, so I figured I’d give it a go. Turns out, “The Snowman” is one of the most boring and confusing trips I have had at the cinema in recent memory.
Nothing about this plot makes sense and it seemingly has characters that add nothing to the plot. For most of the film, I was trying to figure out and remember which character was which and how they related to the story. Turns out none of that ends up mattering because the big reveal at the climax is unrelated to most everything we just spent 90 minutes learning about.
Despite being set in Norway no character in this film speaks with a Norwegian accent. In fact Ferguson and Fassbender are British and their accents are closer to American than anything European. The only actor (and ironically real-life American) trying to do something with their voice is J. K. Simmons, and it is such a random combination of stereotypical Eastern European accents that it was almost amusing to hear him speak.
The performances are fine(?) but sometimes it feels like it they were filming different movies, with two characters in the same scene seemingly having different tones than one another, and actors playing their characters one way in one scene and other in the next.
This pace of this film is slower than an elderly man trying to shovel his driveway in a blizzard (you didn’t think I’d make it through this whole review without a snow reference, did you?) The editing job was done by Claire Simpson and Thelma Schoonmaker (Martin Scorsese’s longtime editor and three-time Oscar winner); apparently Schoonmaker was brought on late to try and salvage the project and make it as interesting as a post-production edit job can be. She failed.
Not that it’s her or Simpson’s faults, because according to the director about 10-15% of the film’s script wasn’t even filmed due to a rushed production schedule. So that may explain why almost none of the character motivations or reveals make sense or why certain characters you think will play major roles in the climax suddenly disappear from the film never to be heard from again.
“The Snowman” commits the capital sin of cinema and is boring. If a film is bad but still enjoyable (for example, “Boo 2: A Madea Halloween”) then there can be some redeeming of its soul. But “The Snowman” has no soul, no purpose, nothing that can even begin to be worth your time, money or effort.
Critics Rating: 3/10
[note: the expression on Fassbender’s face is pretty much the one I had on mine for a majority of the runtime]
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