The Snowman (5/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 119 minutes.
I don’t remember the
first Jo Nesbø book I read. It might have been, “The Bat,” his first, or
it might have been “The Snowman,” his seventh. But either way the book I
read was very good. Unfortunately, as he has proceeded to write more
books about his protagonist, Harry Hole, his books have become
progressively more and more uninvolving for me. One of the reasons might
be because Hole is an unregenerate alcoholic, and Nesbø’s books spend
far too much time, for me anyway, on Hole’s introspection, to the
detriment of the plot. I do remember “The Snowman” as a very good book,
however. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for this movie version,
which stars Michael Fassbender as Hole, and is poorly directed by Tomas
Alfredson, from an even worse script by a bunch of guys named Peter
Straughan, Hossein Amini, and Sørin Sveistrup. Three screenwriters often
make a film three times worse than it should’ve been.
One problem with this
film (and it's not the only problem) is that it makes no sense whatsoever. One likes for there to be
some nexus between the crime and the clues, on the one hand, and the way it is solved by the
Here, Hole (Michael
Fassbender) is working with Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) to solve a
series of serial murders. But the ways they suddenly decide to take the
actions that they take have no relationship to any kind of logical
interconnection with reality or with what came before or with what
So one scene follows
upon another and the audience is just left to wonder how in the world
anybody would decide to take that action. The acting is nothing special,
except for Bratt. Fassbender more or less sleepwalks through the role,
hitting his marks and mumbling his lines. If he is trying to play a
drunk, he has failed miserably.
And speak of
mumbling, what in the world is Val Kilmer, who apparently is playing a
detective from years ago, doing in there and what is he
saying? That’s as big a mystery as who is doing the killing. But his
incomprehensible slurring has little or nothing to do with the plot.
Nor, really, does his presence in the film.
Another problem for
anybody who has read any of Nesbø’s books is that I remember that Nesbø
seems to go to great pains to explain that the name is pronounced
(phonetically), “hula.” Yet throughout the film, everybody pronounces it
“Hole” as in “donut hole.” That was pretty disconcerting for one who has
been trained by the books to read the name as “Hula,” which is apparently the way it
is pronounced in Norwegian.
The production design
of Norway in the winter is well done, but that by itself is certainly
not worth the price of admission.