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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 1, 2017

The Snowman Movie Review: Such A Big Incoherent Mess

WE DON’T know why Michael Fassbender accepted “The Snowman” when it surely will not help forward his career. Come to think of it, most of the films he did lately are duds, including “Macbeth”, “Steve Jobs”, “Trespass Against Us”, “Alien: Covenant” and the special effects laden “Assassin’s Creed” . Maybe he should fire his manager for making such wrong choices.

“The Snowman” is based on an acclaimed mystery novel by Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbo. It’s meant to be a thriller about a serial killer but it comes out as such a big mess, often nebulous and incoherent in unfolding its torturous narrative. It’s as if the movie was made based on a flimsy sequence treatment and scenes were just concocted on the set itself. In the climax, the killer explains his motives for committing a series of murders but even he himself doesn’t sound like he’s really convinced.

The story is set in snowy Oslo, Norway and starts with a prologue. A cop visits a woman and her son who live in a cabin on snow-covered surroundings. The man gives the boy a test and each time he makes a mistake, the boy is slapped hard by the sadistic man, who turns out to be his mom’s lover. This sequence ends with the mother’s car sinking in a frozen lake, leaving the boy an orphan.

We next see Fassbender playing a police detective with a drinking problem, Harry Hole, sleeping while drunk in a snow-covered park. You’d think that he is the young boy left by his mom and is now a grown up having drinking problems because of his traumatic past. But this is just one of the film’s ploys to confuse the audience.

He is separated from his wife, Rakel (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who is now married to a doctor, Matthias (Jonas Karlsson), and has a teenage son who looks up to Harry as his father figure. Harry then investigates a series of killings where the culprit always leaves a snowman at the scene of the crime where the victims are mutilated. Why he does so is never even explained.

Helping Harry solve the case is a female cop, Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson), who keeps a secret past. She’s the one who traces the possible involvement of a rich industrialist with a proclivity for young girls, Arve Stop (JK Simmons) and the doctor who acts as a pimp for him, Idar Vetlesen (David Dencik.) There’s even much ado about Oslo’s bid to host the Winter Olympics instead of just focusing on making the plot developments more credible.

The film credits Oscar winner Martin Scorcese as executive producer, the screenplay is collaborated on by no less than three writers and it’s directed by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson who did such acclaimed films as “Let the Right One In” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. But something goes disastrously wrong somewhere along the way in the making of this movie that it seems nothing and no one could fix its yawning gaps.

This “Snowman” is so execrably bad we would prefer Olaf of “Frozen” anytime. The only saving grace of the movie is its beautifully photographed Nordic setting with its frozen fjords and wintry landscapes. Without them, “The Snowman” simply melts away into nothing.