The Snowman




A routine serial killer thriller is given a striking look. However, the Norwegian scenery 

upstages the action at every turn.


Snowman, The


Harry Hole may be a staple of Scandi noir literature, but he’s still a walking cliché. The protagonist of Jo Nesbø’s best-selling novels, he’s an Oslo cop who only really comes to life when dealing with death. Estranged from his wife and her son and rather too fond of the bottle, he sleeps in his office when he’s not passed out on the pavement. He also smokes, is suspicious of open-and-shut cases and seldom remembers to shave. All that’s missing are the wisecracks.


Of course, we have become rather spoiled by Scandi noir of late. Besides the Millennium trilogy, the TV series The Killing, The Bridge, Borgen and Wallander and the independent entries Just Another Love Story, Headhunters (based on Jo Nesbø’s novel) and A Second Chance, to name but a sprinkling, The Snowman seems a day late and a krone short. In fact, apart from the dazzling cinematography of Dion Beebe and the stunning wintry vistas of Norway, it’s terribly ordinary.


A serial killer is on the loose. And like most serial killers in this sort of thing, he – or she – is a singularly warped human being, drops mouth-watering clues in their wake and likes to lead the police on a merry dance. This particular psychopath – dubbed ‘The Snowman’ – is targeting young mothers and leaves a snowman at the scene of each crime. He – or she – is also an ace with cheesewire. Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) struggles to join up the dots, and is invariably a step behind his new partner, Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson).


The film itself, meticulously crafted by the Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), is an oddly cosmopolitan affair, a sort of international pudding with an Anglo-Norwegian air. There are actors drafted in from Ireland, Sweden, France, the US, the UK and Norway, all of whom adopt a regulation English accent. It’s a chilly, unpleasant and overly-complicated film, albeit with the occasional shot that stops one in one’s tracks. In one sequence, a flock of seagulls scatter to reveal a body in the snow, the latter’s limbs arranged in separate pieces. But, like so many of the corpses that mount up, one doesn’t really care about them. And that is a fatal flaw in a thriller.




Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Ronan Vibert, Chloë Sevigny, James D’Arcy, David Dencik, Jonas Karlsson, Toby Jones, Sofia Helin, Adrian Dunbar, Anne Reid, Alec Newman.


Dir Tomas Alfredson, Pro Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo and Peter Gustafsson, Ex Pro Martin Scorsese, Screenplay Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan and Søren Sveistrup, Ph Dion Beebe, Pro Des Maria Djurkovic, Ed Thelma Schoonmaker and Claire Simpson, Music Marco Beltrami.


Perfect World Pictures/Working Title Films/Another Park Film-Universal Pictures

119 mins. USA/UK/Sweden. 2017. Rel: 13 October 2017. Cert. 15.