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“Something Clearly Went Wrong” – A Review of ‘The Snowman’ Directed by Tomas Aflredson

No matter the resulting quality of any Tomas Alfredson film, there is always something that makes you want to see it. And if I need to say that at the beginning of a review, maybe you can guess where I’m ultimately headed.

The Snowman, in theory, has everything that needs to be an interesting film: a great cast, a brilliant director, beautiful cinematography, and even Martin Scorsese as a producer. But either because the script is the wonky or maybe there were some creative disagreements behind the scenes, the film is more or less absolutely bonkers.

Michael Fassbender plays the alcoholic police detective Harry Hole who lives in Norway, where the story takes place. He smokes in just about every scene and stares awkwardly at people a lot. He receives a mysterious letter with a snowman doodled on it, telling him to “be careful”. Soon after, he gets pulled into a missing persons case, and then he finds out that several women have disappeared under the same circumstances – always when there’s a snowfall. In addition to that, there is always a crude snowman at the crime scene…

I think it’s supposed to look menacing, but, unfortunately, it has the opposite effect. Along with a female detective named Katrine, he discovers that a woman also disappeared 9 years prior, and this is where things start to get confusing. The flashbacks we are given are only introduced with a title card once, and after that those appear very randomly; so much that when he get back to the present time, it’s a struggle to figure out what’s going on.

There are many details left unexplained, but put in the centre of our attention, so that we question why they are there. There seems to be an issue with the editing as well. Particularly in one scene towards the end: Throughout the rest of the film, Fassbender is clean-shaven, hair cropped short, and then suddenly in the middle of this scene, hair has sprouted out on his head, and starts to sport a thin moustache. Is this black magic?

Despite the many flaws in the narrative, the editing and the script, instead of being disappointed with the film, one is left feeling sorry for the film-makers. Something clearly went wrong along the way to the top of the mountain of success and instead veered off into steep cliffs with sharp rocks on the bottom.