The Snowman is based on the book by Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø. So does the movie do justice to the amazing book? In a word: No!
The Snowman is one of the most infuriating disappointments I’ve had in a long time! Sure, The Mist TV-series was a bust and movies can sometimes disappoint for various reasons.
But The Snowman? It’s just plain bad!
Let me repeat it for those in the back: The Snowman is a really bad movie!
Now, I don’t mean the actors are bad. They’re actually doing the best they can with what they have at their disposal. The problem is the movie as a whole.
We’re constantly being pulled off to a certain direction in a way that clearly tells the audience “This is a red herring, but here, look at this clue!” and so you do.
Which means that every single time a “big” plot twist is revealed, you feel like screaming at the screen; Yes, I know, because you made no real attempt to hide it from me. In fact, you’ve shown me this in several different ways already!
And what’s up with those damn dialects?
Look, we all knew this adaptation would be in English. So I’m not going to hate on that little fact.
However, I will never understand why any adaptation insists on keeping the story in a non-English country while making all the characters speak English. While, of course, also keeping the nationality of the character.
In the opening scene of The Snowman, we watch three people speaking English with a heavy Norwegian accent. As if this somehow constitutes them being Norwegian.
For the rest of the movie, however, all Norwegians are speaking British English. Not with the same dialect, mind you. No, we get super posh British and a more “average Joe” British. Yeah, I just wanted to mess with the whole nationality issue by adding an American twist to a British dialect issue.
Then again, we do also get one person speaking with a thick American English accent. Enter Val Kilmer in what is probably his weirdest role to date!
WTF happened to Val Kilmer?
Yes, Val Kilmer is getting his very own segment of this review. Not that his role takes up much of the movie, but it certainly is memorable. For all the wrong and weird reasons.
Basically, any scene with Val Kilmer feels like it was taken out of The Room – the subject of the upcoming The Disaster Artist.
Throughout the first scene with Val Kilmer in The Snowman, we only see him actually saying one line. He does have 5 or 6 lines, but for those first lines, we see the back of his head while he’s saying them.
That’s probably a good idea since he’s almost drooling his way through the scene anyway. Val Kilmer looks like he’s doing an awful Marlon Brando in The Godfather impression.
Also, his lines are clearly done in post-production speak. You can see it and you can most definitely hear it!
For a while, there were rumors that Val Kilmer underwent cancer treatment, which he later confirmed to be correct. This might be the explanation. Still, if the man can’t do his job (which he clearly can’t), then replace him with someone who can.
Maybe – and this is a crazy suggestion, I know – use a Norwegian actor. For this Norwegian character. From a Norwegian book by a Norwegian writer. Which takes place in Norway.
Crazy idea, I know!
Great, but small, performances by Scandinavian actors
While Norwegian actors don’t take up much space in The Snowman, there is a Swedish actor in a key role. She’s played by Rebecca Ferguson (Life), who I’ve never seen in a bad portrayal. She’s not bad in this movie either, but her character is boring and pretty one-dimensional.
And yes, we do also have one Norwegian actor in a supporting character. Well, sort of. He’s certainly in many scenes but doesn’t get many lines.
We also have a Danish actor in David Dencik. He plays one of the most fascinating characters in the movie. In fact, he probably comes out of this whole ordeal with the most to show for it.
In general, The Snowman does have quite an impressive cast. We get J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), who I have adored since watching him on Oz. In this movie, his talents are wasted.
Then again, it can’t be easy portraying a posh Norwegian businessman with an almost over-the-top British accent.
The Snowman movie offers nothing new
While watching The Snowman, I kept getting the feeling that I’d seen this all before. The drunk and unpleasant – but somehow super brilliant – detective, who keeps struggling with his own demons.
Since Sherlock Holmes, we’ve been dealing with that type of character.
Also, the entire movie feels like a light version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And not just because we’re in the snowclad Scandinavian setting and have Scandinavians speaking English.
The Snowman, however, is desperately missing a Lisbeth Salander-like character, which is probably a big part of the problem with the movie.
There is, however, a brilliant computer geek/hacker lady in the form of Jamie Clayton (Sense8). She does a great job, but is in far too few scenes for us to get any sense of who she is.
The same goes for Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Brilliant actor, who works well in this movie, but with very few scenes.
Stuff to piss of any Scandinavian
There’s no doubt that The Snowman will disappoint many. Still, Scandinavians will probably take it more to heart. Including how we’re portrayed.
Let’s take Detective Harry Hole, who’s portrayed by Michael Fassbender and works well in the role. Harry Hole is a chain-smoking alcoholic, which is his own issue. However, you cannot smoke indoors in very many buildings in Scandinavia. We’re pretty Californian, in that sense.
Also, nobody lights up a cigarette in a Scandinavian home without asking permission. If you do, then prepare to be kicked out or have water thrown in your face. If you manage to even light it before being stopped.
And no Scandinavian in their right mind runs around wearing a flimsy open jacket without a scarf or gloves when it’s snowing. And we most definitely don’t grab onto frozen metal bars with our wet (gloveless) hands.
Furthermore, I can guarantee you that we would indeed find it very strange if a grown-ass adult runs around building creepy snowmen. Especially alone and late at night on a busy street. That case would be solved in no time.
Will you take your chances with The Snowman?
What shocks me the most is the fact that a Swedish director is behind this. Tomas Alfredson made the brilliant Let the Right One In, which was later remade as an American production.
Someone else must have been calling the shots, while the Scandinavians on set started treating this all as some twisted joke.
And the grand finale with The Snowman killer? One of the most anti-climatic moments ever. I’ve seen episodes of Murder, She Wrote that left a much deeper and darker impression.
If you do decide to watch this movie, then good luck. Enjoy the actors (notice the amazing names in the cast below) and the scenery, because the story and characters are a fucking mess!
The Snowman will premiere in US theaters on September 20, 2017.
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writer: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan, Søren Sveistrup (based on the book by Jo Nesbø)
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, David Dencik, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer, Chloë Sevigny, Toby Jones, Jamie Clayton, James D’Arcy, Jakob Oftebro
Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.