The Snowman

Soon the first snow will fall, and the hunt for a killer begins.

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 15
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Director: Tomas Alfredson.
Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons

Synopsis

Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.

Review

Unless you’re frequently watching BBC Four, Scandinavian Crime has been withdrawn from the mainstream screen.  It’s been six years since David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Kenneth Branagh has been too busy to carry on with Wallander.  Personally I welcome the comeback of the cold cities.  Scandinavian Crime film and television tend to attract me more than travel brochures.

Tomas Alfredson is a smooth choice for Jo Nesbø’s novel.  With his sensitive Let the Right One In and elegant Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in his back catalogue, he can easily draw elements from both of these for The Snowman.  He also brings a couple of his previous cast members (David Dencik and Toby Jones).  His job here is to make the film creepy, pretty, tense and cold: but subconsciously I believe he has gone in with a vision for visitolso.com.

After an opening of awkward child acting and backstory, we find Harry Hole sleeping with an empty vodka bottle in a park.  Turns out he’s not upset, he’s just bored.  He’s then catching a ride with Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) – and the two stumble upon a case of a missing mother.  Soon they find there are other women suffering a similar fate.  And this presents Harry with a chance to put his quickly sobering mind into gear.

Michael Fassbender is as watchable as ever.  Drunk, intelligent, hung-over:  He just does it all so well.  Knowing that The Snowman isn’t the only Harry Hole novel, I’d be quite happy to have a series of these films and hope Fassbender would return each time: but I have to say that Rebecca Ferguson is the strong contender here.  Despite seeming that she’s really only present for some pretty obvious plot devices, Ferguson strikes back and she’s a much more lovable heroine than I initially expected her to be.

However the biggest amusement for the audience is Val Kilmer.  Playing a more comic Harry Hole character, I relished every moment he appeared.  I’m still not sure if Aldredson told Kilmer this was a comedy, but Kilmer – probably a law upon himself – seems to do what he likes. On the way out of the screen I said out loud; “It’s amazing how well Val Kilmer can play an irritable old git,” before realising it probably comes to him with ease.

Verdict

Alfredson has delivered a cool, enjoyable, pacey thriller.  He gets the best he can from his actors.  He makes Oslo look safe – even though there’s a killer running amok.  A few things are a bit obvious, which may be a letdown for some viewers: but because everyone here is so cool (a particular nod to Charlotte Gainsbourg) I couldn’t help but enjoy their company in the cold. 

Review by Chris Gray
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