Dritt, fulstendig dritt!
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini, Soren Sveistrup
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons
Swift shot: As a three year resident of Norway, I had high hopes for this film, and I have been hearing from my Norwegian friends how good the Jo Nesbo Harry Hole series is . . . to read. I was expecting something like Silence of the Lambs meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, what I got was just a convoluted mess of ideas that should have been handled much better! The word that will forever haunt Director Alfredson in regards to The Snowman is “potential.” This story had potential, the characters had potential, the editing . . . well, the editing had no potential, it was an utter failure. Right up there with the piss-poor editing of Seven Pounds, in fact.
I recognize that making a film is challenging, and I hate to just crap all over anyone’s work, but there was just almost nothing redeeming about The Snowman. This director has two strikes and one home run, for me: his breakout masterpiece, the original Let the Right One In, which still kinda freaks me out and his miss being the boring as hell Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Harry Hole (Fassbender) is a cop, I guess, although he spends most of his time in a bottle. Many scenes Harry just passes out drunk in the middle of Oslo. His uncle has just died, and he’s taken some unapproved leave to deal with it. Apparently before he became the walking dumpster fire that he is now, he was a shit-hot investigator. This affords him some flexibility from his boss. But he is reluctantly assigned a babysitter in the form of his neophyte crusading partner, Katrine (Ferguson).
Meanwhile, he’s involved in his ex-girlfriend’s son’s life, even though she has a new boyfriend, Mathias (Jonas Karlsson). Mathias is a saint to put up with Harry’s ex, Rakel (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who is by far the most annoying character on the silver screen since Jar Jar Binks, yes really. By the end of the film I heard people rooting for her to die. Her poor kid, Oleg (Michael Yates), a sixteen year old who has no idea who his father is, has to endure her constant whinging. The audience felt your pain, kid, believe me. You deserved a better mother.
Oh, did we forget to mention this film is about a serial killer who dismembers women and taunts the police (all one of them) with strategically placed snowmen? Yea, that’s the fucking movie I WANTED to see, not this euro-trash melodrama bullshit. Hey, any of you filmmakers seen a serial killer around here? Wasted throughout the film is the supposedly brilliant, plodding exposition of Harry and his partner Katrine. Her backstory is by far the most interesting aspect of the entire movie, as is her motivation for pursuing the case, ghosts from her past that won’t be silenced.
The movie should have focused more on the killer and the cat and mouse game he was playing with Harry. Truth be told, when the killer is revealed, I had figured it out by the middle of the film and was just waiting for Harry to catch on. Seriously, because the killer’s motivation is never really explained in a satisfactory way, I just felt bummed out.
I love murder mystery films, and I love the kind of serial killer hunter intrigue of figuring out what makes him tick. Why does he kill, why are there so many damned useless characters in this film that serve almost no purpose? Especially Oleg’s mom, her little rants and odd behavior did nothing to endear me to her, at all. So, Harry keeps getting these clues, and he opens them and I guess throws them in the trash, because we never see him look at them again . . . not once! That is a friggin’ shame, because that’s the stuff I came to see, a man-hunter movie, not some angsty artsy shit!
There was one cool takeaway from The Snowman, the Oslo Police have issued every investigator a new device that records in real-time their interactions with suspects. Speaking of investigating, it just dawned on me now that Harry Hole never really managed to solve the case at all, he just kind of stumbles onto the killer thanks to his partner’s side pursuits. And the final showdown with the killer is also the most unsatisfying climax of any film since maybe Crazy Heart . . . which also made our Complete Shit list.
I have one hard and fast rule when I screen a movie, just don’t bore me! This movie was incredibly slow, and I actually laughed, loudly at scenes that I am sure the director wanted me to take seriously. There is one DRAMATIC SCENE where the task-force working to supposedly catch a serial killer is interrupted by a ringing phone, where I shit you not, everyone stops what they are doing and looks at the phone like it is the President on the other end or something. It’s literally just a ringing phone. That was when I started just openly mocking this film, yes, even from my seat.
Incidentally, there are no spoilers in this review, but I did give you clues as to who the killer is, in my review. You know, like the damned trailers and movie teased but never delivered on once! I sat there looking at that stupid “Mister Police” letter for twenty minutes trying to figure out a clue . . . what a waste of time!