By Jack Dignan
We should’ve seen this coming. I’m honestly surprised we didn’t. No matter how good Joe Nesbø’s book may be (I haven’t read it), or how talented the cast is, all of the clues were laid out before our very eyes. The Snowman is an abomination. And it’s not just that it’s bad, it literally doesn’t have a single redeeming quality about it, outside of its unintentional comedic elements that were the only things keeping me alive throughout the entire runtime. The original cut of this film clocked in at 3 hours long. The final runtime is 119 minutes. That’s an hour of the movie lost in editing. Early test screens rated poorly. And, just recently, director Thomas Alfredson came out and stated that they only filmed 75% of the script. Yet everyone I know was excited for this movie, myself included.
I’m genuinely embarrassed for everybody involved in whatever the fuck I volunteered to watch last night, yet I don’t blame them for signing on. On paper, this film sounds incredible. It could’ve been the next Gone Girl or Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (maybe they should’ve gone with The Snowgirl as the title instead). It’s the director of Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy adapting a bestselling, well-received crime thriller from the screenwriters behind Frank and Drive. There’s no way this could’ve been bad. This should’ve been one of the best films of the year. Yet for some reason, it’s worse than The Emoji Movie, and that’s a very, very, incredibly low bar to overcome.
Even the IMDb synopsis, the same synopsis used for all of this film’s marketing, sheds false information about what this film is. Let me bring it up for you. “Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.” First of all, I don’t once recall a pink scarf ever being found wrapped around any snowmen. Snowmen come and go throughout, found at the crime scenes of several disappearances (and some murders that are still labeled as disappearances for who knows what reason), but never do they have scarfs wrapped around them. Sometimes there are severed body parts, but that’s only on the rare occasion.
Then, more importantly, Detective Harry Hole isn’t the one investigating this case. It’s Rebecca Ferguson’s Katrine Bratt who takes on the job. Harry Hole is an unlikeable, poorly named, alcoholic, cigarette addict who takes weeks off of work without a formal notice. You don’t care for him or his troubles in life, and Michael Fassbender sleepwalks through every scene he’s in. He clearly didn’t give a shit about this movie. His performance makes that very evident. The only reason he gets tied up in this case is because he gets a lift home with Katrine from work (at 10am in the morning??), but ends up waiting in her car while she works on the case (??). Cut to the next scene and suddenly he’s working side by side with her.
There’s a strange emotional arc going on with his character that can never decide what it’s trying to be. He’s timid towards picking up a case, all while telling everyone he needs to work on a case, simultaneously to actually working on a case. On top of that, there’s a strange and unnecessarily lengthy sub-plot with his ex-girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and maybe-potentially-but-probably-not son (Michael Yates) that ends all too predictably and unnecessarily convoluted. The characters are lifeless and unexplained, especially J.K. Simmons’ British character of high importance (I guess?) that keeps filming women naked for no reason whatsoever. His story is dropped without warning and never mentioned again.
One scene of his in particular brought with it plenty of laughs for the audience. J.K. Simmons engages in a conversation with Rebecca Ferguson’s character, only to cut it short, pull his phone out and snap a picture of her face with the flash on. He then awkward hovers behind a cupboard while his assistant comes up to her and informs her that J.K. had a wonderful time talking to her. Words cannot do it justice. Words cannot do any of this film’s humour justice. None of it is intentional, every scene takes itself way too seriously, but I haven’t laughed this hard in a very long time. I struggled to keep it together throughout all of the runtime, and I’m genuinely surprised no staff member kicked me out for disrupting the cinema’s tranquility.
I cannot even begin to fathom sitting through an extra hour of this movie. It’s a three-hour film trimmed down into two and you can really feel it. Sub-plots come and go, scenes are full of jump cuts, supporting characters appear for no reason, and dialogue is poorly dubbed over character’s lips to shorten it and save time. Context is non-existent when it comes to The Snowman. You’re thrown into the deep end without the ability to swim. In fact, I take that back. That’s an unfair comparison. Drowning would be a much better option than having to sit through this movie again. While most of the plot feels trimmed, my life is better off for it.
I really didn’t expect to be hammering this movie as much as I am, but it deserves it. Everything from the script to the acting to the directing to the painfully ugly design just failed to work. I didn’t like a single thing in this movie. Fucking Val Kilmer even shows up for 3 scenes and I have no clue as to why. Little did I think that a Michael Fassbender-led crime thriller would be one of the worst films of the year, but here we are. Films shouldn’t have to be this bad. There’s still good left in the world. I’m just loosing a lot of hope.
0 1/2 Stars
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