There is an immeasurable bizarreness and incoherence to Tomas Alfredson’s latest feature, The Snowman, that suits the film perfectly. What was once billed as the next Martin Scorsese picture, it quickly morphed into the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy auteur’s follow-up feature film. Scorsese stayed on as an Executive Producer and Thelma Schoonmaker stayed on as editor.
The film follows the overly familiar tropes of the paperbacks that are mass produced for airport terminals that are reminders of films like Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl, yet there is something so uniquely fresh regarding this film; Val Kilmer has an extended cameo in flashbacks as a cop who was originally investigating the Snowman killer, and his voice is obviously dubbed by a different actor and as completely jarring it is at first, it suits the character and Kilmer’s performance amazingly well.
Characters who would normally be spared for a forced and unintentionally joyless send-off in the final moments of the film are killed off, characters played by prominent actors have their storylines just fade away and are never to be seen or heard of again in the film, and those are just a few examples of how this film shakes off conventionality and the norms of what Hollywood has turned the “R rated adult thriller” into.
Alfredson has been doing damage control prior to the films wide opening, stating that he believes ten to fifteen percent of the film’s script was left unfilmed and that the production was rushed. That very well may be true, but that would not have made a difference to the finished product. This is a film that is dense, it’s trying of the audience’s patients, and it’s rather horrific to many, if not all of the characters on screen.
The cast is wonderful, Michael Fassbender is great, and embodies the smoking, hard drinking, callus detective who has fallen from grace with a command performance. Charlette Gainsbourg, Rebbeca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, and James D’Arcy round out the terrific ensemble. Dion Beebe’s cinematography is icy and freezing cold, while Marco Beltrami’s score keeps you uncomfortable and waiting for the narrative’s next gruesome discovery.
The joke is Fassbender dove headfirst into a role that is worthy of his obscene talent. He’s become this prolific franchise player of series that aren’t deserving of his talents. In the film, he reverts back to bearing his soul and disappearing into a troubled and toxic character; yet the reception of this film will only hinder his box office star power.
The film is not nearly as bad as the critics have been making it out to be. The Snowman has become yet another pile on, with outlets trying to outdo one another with obnoxious headlines stating how awful the film is. That’s just not true, the film is rather good and will be one of those films that will continue to pick up a following as it ages, finding itself in the same boat as The Counselor or Killing Them Softly, films that were commercial and critical failures that were made with transgressive intent and birthed to audiences with preconceived hostilities due to the internet echo chamber.
Review by Frank Mengarelli