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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 protagonists.

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 follows.

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.