Review by Wil Walker
Basically: Everything is covered in snow, there’s vodka everywhere, and everyone is drunk harboring some extreme misdirected daddy issues. Save yourself the headache, watch the trailer three times and do vodka shots each time you see coffee beans or a snowman.
So, I never read Jo Nesbo’s best-selling crime novel that birthed The Snowman, but I do remember when reading that Martin Scorsese was going to direct Michael Fassbender in the film adaptation. When I heard about the screening, Taxi Cab Driver, Shutter Island, Inglorious Bastards, and Hunger immediately introduced themselves (in my head of course) and I begged for the chance to review what I knew would be a brilliant thriller. I must’ve passed out from the excitement, because somewhere Scorsese dipped out on directing and some guy named Tomas Alfredson stuck stupid on a VHS and called it The Snowman. The lesson: Be very careful what you ask for.
The movie starts with an extremely awkward game of dysfunctional family history trivia which ends with a young boy watching his “uncle” who visits every Tuesday to smash his mother after he’s been pelted with coffee beans after failing to answer history questions. Fast forward. The mother threatens the “Uncle” causing him to leave vowing never to return. The young boy is sent off to an orphanage after barely escaping the car as he watches his mother vanish into a freezing watery grave, and the the rest just sort of becomes a blurry mess.
Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is a sleep deprived, wild and loose, top dog detective who doesn’t have a driver’s license. Harry gets a new partner in cagey Katrina Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson). And we’re off to search for a serial killer in Norway.
At a point the film became not only predictable, but unbearably confusing. By the time the killer (remember the traumatized watery grave boy from the opening) is revealed I understood why vodka bottles make as many appearances as Fassbender’s Hole. Let’s see what else? Val Kilmer—vodka in hand, is spliced in randomly in flashbacks as Bratt’s drunken father. There’s a Weinstein pervy doctor with pink toenails who plays pimp to an even sketchier Trump inspired industrialist who snaps photos of his impending conquests for god only knows what. Each of the gory vanilla decapitations are crowned with a Snowman’s head. I think I actually yawned. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Oh just Toby Jones and Chloë Sevigny to add more crazy to this snowball confusion.
On positive note, Alfredson does provide some incredible shots of Oslo. It’s like a beautiful snow covered wonderland. It’s all very Netflix Abstract: Art of Design meets Architectural Digest. Other than that, I suggest he dust off the old resume.
In the end: Give Fassbender lemons, he delivers limoncello. He’s a solid dude. Even with that, The Snowman is nothing more than a one-dimensional film that I’ll wager will be insulting to anyone who read the book. The book sells for $9.99 in Barnes and Noble, Alfredson should be made to payout $299,700,000.00 to all 30 million readers who bought Nesbo’s book worldwide. Again, the HD trailer and vodka shots. You can thank me later.