Michael Fassbender lacks charisma in this melted murder mystery
There are two things required for any great murder mysteries: interesting characters with plenty of development and a suspenseful whodunnit mystery. The Snowman lacks in both departments. Like Last year’s The Girl On The Train, this snowy murder mystery is the latest novel-turned-movie to fall way short of the greatness of Gone Girl and from all three movies, it’s the least competent.
Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is a drunk investigator who is searching for work in the crimeless Oslo. When he receives a letter from an unknown individual, it leads him on the trail of a serial killer targeting women. His signature mark – leaving snowmen at the scene of the crime.
Tomas Alfredson has directed some good movies in his career. Let the Right One In is a fantastic movie that shows Alfredson’s abilities as a competent director. Although it’s tough to see his competency in The Snowman, there are sprinkles of his brilliance. At its core, the whole movie is gorgeously shot using Oslo’s terrific landscapes and sceneries. Some shots are truly amazing and show what Alfredson is capable of delivering a tremendously dark thriller.
Yet, The Snowman is edited atrociously taking away from the long beautiful panning shots of Alfredson. A lot of the times, it cuts away before the shot is even finished and makes the film incredibly jarring. But the editing goes even worse than messing with the aesthetic of the film. The whole movie feels mashed together without a sense of unity. Many scenes feel tacked on randomly, and the movie doesn’t make sense as a consequence. The film doesn’t cohesively flow, and certain plot points don’t necessarily make sense or get tied to the central mystery. It seems that there might be scenes missing from the film that could help the audience understand the overall story.
As a result, Michael Fassbender and the rest of the cast are extremely uninspired and dull throughout The Snowman. Fassbender completely lacks charisma and energy leaving his performance quite stale. However, the blame shouldn’t all be placed on him. Harry Hole is such a cliche and underwritten character without drive nor purpose. His actions are unexplained, and he feels disconnected from the whole investigation. This is also true for other characters as well. Rebecca Ferguson’s character is also pointless and uncompelling. Though she delivers a more energetic and tuned performance, the film doesn’t have an idea of what to do with her.
As a murder mystery, The Snowman is the worst of the worst. The central mystery, while not cohesive, doesn’t elicit much suspense or thrills. From the first scene, the movie wants to go a darker route, but with dull characters, it doesn’t give any reason to care. Even when Harry finds out who has been killing the women, there’s no reason to get excited or scared. The Snowman just doesn’t entice its audience enough to even get intrigued in its mystery. And why should we, when it doesn’t even have a plan for its characters or story. It’s mainly true when the film inches closer and closer to a supposed climax which never actually delivers. Instead, it ends abruptly not worried about finishing the story but paving the way for a potential sequel.
Unexpectedly, The Snowman is such a terrible mystery that it manages to surprise. It’s both presented in a way that’s utterly predictable yet completely non-sensical. I challenge you to try and explain the movie to someone from start to finish. I sure couldn’t. However, I truly believe that somewhere, in this mess, is a competent film ready to blossom (just look at the beautiful cinematography). Unfortunately, it’s a movie that has completely melted in the hands of an otherwise talented director.
The Snowman comes out in theatres on October 20.