Film Review: ‘The Snowman’ – Variety

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but there’s no fire — delightful or otherwise — inside “The Snowman,” a suitably frosty but flaccid first attempt at Hollywoodizing the oeuvre of popular Norwegian noir merchant Jo Nesbø. On paper, this twisty, grisly serial-killer chiller seemed an optimum match of talent to material, with Swedish genre stylist Tomas Alfredson returning to his Scandi roots after a super-smart English-lingo debut in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” — taking the reins from Martin Scorsese, no less, who still offers his classy imprimatur as an executive producer.

You’d be hard pressed to trace either man’s touch, however, in this choppy, blizzard-brained adaptation of Nesbø’s 2007 bestseller, for which the best that can be said is that it reworks the text just enough to keep the author’s die-hard fans on their frost-bitten toes. Anyone else, however, is likely to be bewildered by a haphazard structure, a surfeit of dill-pickled red herrings and the blank impenetrability of Michael Fassbender’s Harry Hole, a supposedly rule-averse detective who does markedly little detecting over the course of two hours. (Perhaps that’s his maverick USP.) On brand appeal alone, Alfredson’s film may scare up some reasonable early box office internationally; once first snowfall turns to slush, though, it’s unlikely Universal will want to build a “Snowman” franchise.

It might take an investigator more intuitive than Hole to pinpoint precisely where and how things unraveled in a production that seems to have been second-, third- and fourth-guessed at every turn, and bears the manifold scars and stitches of on-the-fly rethinking. The late addition to the credits of Scorsese’s revered editor Thelma Schoonmaker, supplementing the work of the estimable Claire Simpson, hints at a high level of creative uncertainty over just how to fillet and present Nesbø’s dense, misdirection-filled yarn: an introduction to Hole…

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