The Snowman Makes Less Than No Sense

It's all Greek to most viewers.

The Snowman

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer, Chloe Sevigny
Directed By: Thomas Alfredson
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Rating: ½*

Wow, what a bad movie The Snowman is, and why isn’t this incomprehensible serial killer thriller that seems so chickflickish not debuting on the Lifetime channel at 3 in the morning instead of opening in first-run theaters this Friday?

If anyone can explain fully what’s going on in this film, you win the “Check Out The Big Brain On Brad” Award. If you know why there’s a J.K. Simmons’ storyline about what nation the World Cup will be rewarded to, or in fact, what happens to J.K. Simmons, please write in and we’ll put your answer on the front page.

Basically, there are women being killed in Norway by a serial killer who builds a snowman in some fashion after he dispatches them. Perhaps it’s fair to say that the women of Norway need not worry about this problem in the warmer months of the year.

And never mind that it takes more than a couple of minutes to build a snowman and whomever is doing so would certainly draw attention to themselves, which you’d think a killer really wouldn’t want to do.

Snow men …
… or snow women …

There are also men getting killed and they don’t necessarily have snowmen around, but coffeebeans might be found at the scene. You’ve also got a couple of seriously drunk cops working the cases, which stretch through the years, but no indication is given as to why these guys drink themselves to oblivion or why the lead detective (Michael Fassbender) never seems drunk, hungover, or with a hair out of place.

Also, the killer has a unique way of staging his victims after he or she is done with them – the women victims, anyway – and yet there is never a reason given as to why this is so and has nothing to do whatsoever in leading to the reveal of the murderer.

And you are defied to keep up with the cast of characters – now, who is this person and how are they related to these people and are they even supposed to be in the movie, and why is this woman letting this guy take demeaning pictures of her and what’s he doing that for anyway.

That all the characters have Nordic-sounding names – Gunnar Hagen, Idar Vetlesen, Aasen, Ottersen, Pedersen, etc. – doesn’t help you keep track of anybody along the way as explanations start coming out and motives are assigned.

…Michael Fassbender, as Inspector Harry Hole, can’t figure out either one.

Maybe you have to read the book. The Snowman movie is based on Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo’s book of the same name, the seventh entry in his series of novels featuring the “drunk with problems” detective in this flick, Harry Hole (Fassbender), who doesn’t seem to really have any problems out of the ordinary, and whose detecting skills seem sharp as a tack.

Maybe the book explains the whole sordid situation better than the movie does, which tries to wrap things up neatly at the end, but even so, when the killer is revealed, you’re still thinking, now who is this person and they don’t seem so crazy and why’d they kill these other people, and what’s a snowman got to do with any of it.

But then, the biggest answer to this whole mystery is a recent revelation by the director Thomas Alfredson, who has done some really solid work on other films he’s directed, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Let The Right One In.

Alfredson says that because there was a rush to get the project completed, a full 10-15 percent of the script for the movie was not filmed. Ten to 15 percent. His actual quote was: “Our shoot time in Norway was way too short, we didn’t get the whole story with us and when we started cutting we discovered that a lot was missing. It’s like when you’re making a big jigsaw puzzle and a few pieces are missing so you don’t see the whole picture.”

Seems like that’s pretty darn important in a movie and it sure ‘splains a lot. Imagine driving around without 15 percent of your car. Better yet, imagine not paying 100 percent of the ticket price for this movie. Move along, folks, there’s nothing to see here.

David Smallwood

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