Review: The Snowman

The Snowman
3 10

PLOT: Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), an alcoholic Oslo detective, investigates a string of serial killings targeting women, where the killer’s signature is an ominous snowman.

REVIEW: THE SNOWMAN should have been a prestige offering, with director Tomas Alfredson coming off LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, not to mention the cast, the fact that it’s based on author Jo Nesbo’s huge bestseller, and that Martin Scorsese in on-board as a producer. What went wrong? Plenty it seems.

THE SNOWMAN is fascinating, but not because of the diabolical mystery the big screen detective played by Michael Fassbender is investigating. What’s so intriguing is how horribly awry the film goes from the first second – with off-kilter performances and line-readings that are puzzling in that they could have been approved for a big budget studio film. Alfredson is going-around blaming a rushed production schedule, saying 10-15% of the script wasn’t filmed, but that explanation doesn’t make a lick of sense. After all, the movie got widely reported reshoots. If they were missing something crucial, wouldn’t they go back and film it?

More than anything, it seems like Alfredson just botched it, a surprise given his track record. There are things about THE SNOWMAN that work, mostly the cinematography by Dion Beebe, which evocatively captures the snowy landscape of Oslo, and some of the music choices. That’s about it though.

Firstly, the movie is miscast. Fassbender is a great actor, but badly miscast as Hole, who’s supposed to be an incorrigible alcoholic veteran. Fassbender is too young to play this legendary vet, and too healthy looking to convincingly play a guy that’s such a blackout drunk he routinely wakes up in parks next to an empty bottle of vodka. He chain-smokes his way through the film, but they still can’t resist the temptation for a moody shirtless scene that shows off his six-pack. Alcoholics don’t look like that.

Rebecca Ferguson, who was so highly touted after MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION, is again badly served by a role that doesn’t let her do anything. She plays Hole’s reluctant partner, and its assembly line stuff, not even as interestingly sketched as she apparently was in the book. After LIFE, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, and now this Hollywood needs to use her better. The supporting cast is a strange mix of accents. Everyone seems to be using their native accent, except J.K Simmons in a bizarre turn, with him opting for a plummy English accent that will no doubt elicit giggles from fans.

The strangest of all is Val Kilmer. He’s clearly ill, perhaps too sick to be acting, but what’s worse is that the part seems to have been re-written after principal photography, with Kilmer probably unable to participate in reshoots or revoice his part (his speech having been affected by his illness). As a result, it looks like the part was strung together with outtakes, with maybe even some CGI to make his lips move, while a voice actor that sounds nothing like the actual Kilmer has dubbed him – badly. Given that the flashbacks he appears in are extraneous, wasn’t there a way around using these bad tricks? It’s embarrassing for Kilmer, who I refuse to believe could intentionally deliver so odd a performance.

Speaking of post-production woes, THE SNOWMAN is such a mess that two ace editors, Claire Simpson (the editor of PLATOON!) and Marty regular Thelma Schoonmaker aren’t able to make sense of it – with a climatic action scene incomprehensible (someone loses a finger – I had no idea who until the last scene). Big studio films are rarely this messy, so THE SNOWMAN, while a disaster, is fascinating in this regard and could be used as a film school example of how awry a movie can go. See it only out of morbid curiosity.

Source: JoBlo.com



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