The Snowman (15) Review

Michael Fassbender stars in The Snowman. Did this Nordic noir leave our reviewer cold?

Emma Brady
23rd October 2017
Michael Fassbender stars as Harry Hole in this Jo Nesbø adaptation. Image:

The Snowman starts out promising. One of the opening shots - a bleak and lonely cabin set against the stark beauty of the endless white snow – is stylistically indicative of the popular Scandinavian noir genre; the genre that portrays murder, rape, misogyny, and an array of other morbid things with complete simplicity.

That’s why it works so well on-screen: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo manages to be thrilling without being convoluted, as the focus on one case and a select few characters ensures plot and character development without the film losing track of itself. Sadly, the same cannot be said of The Snowman, which attempts to build to something grand without realising that, somewhere along the way, it all got a bit muddled.

After the startling opening, we are catapulted forward in time – a different place, a different character. Fassbender’s Harry Hole, a grizzly and melancholic detective, is assigned to the case of The Snowman after receiving a threatening note from the killer. With his partner, the newly-hired Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson), they chase lead after lead.

The only thing that is certain: the killer is triggered by snowfall, and his victims are all either mothers, or pregnant women.

The film jolts along unsteadily. The pacing, although initially good, is lost amongst the introduction of minor characters who seem important but are essentially irrelevant.

Furthermore the atmosphere is not withheld throughout, and seems confused. A scene which should have been shocking and heart-breaking falls flat, and the film allows no time for reflection: both ours and the characters’. Perhaps The Snowman would have worked better as a TV series; the source material - Jo Nesbo’s brilliant novel -  is so well accredited, it seems almost sad that the film fails to occupy the same level of excellence.

Despite the messiness of the plot, it is a beautiful-looking film.

Pans of Oslo and Bergen, fill the screen. A train hurtles silently through a vacant and icy landscape; a dark-looking cabin standing alone at the edge of the world.

Fassbender does his best with Harry, giving him a hardened edge but allowing his idealistic interior to show; it is a shame that the film does not lend room for the character’s growth.

In fact, promising expositions but disappointing deliveries seem to be a theme with this film. It is watchable, and enjoyable. But one can’t help feel that there should be more…

The film feels rushed – and if this were not the case, perhaps the material could have delivered in a way which would leave any audience in awe. Sadly, The Snowman falls short; which does not render it a bad film, merely a one of missed opportunities.

Rating: 3/5

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