[Review] The Snowman


Solid casting, seasoned director … On paper, Tomas Alfredson’s latest film promised a lot. But this snowman is melting like an icicle in the sun …

Solid casting, seasoned director… On paper, Tomas Alfredson’s latest film promised a lot. But this snowman is melting like an icicle in the sun.

Even more than in cinema, the figure of the serial killer is widely explored in literature. And if Hollywood has been able to bring out the most formidable of them on the screen by digging into its own archives, the machine seems to have stalled for ten years, after the release of David’s excellent Zodiac. Fincher.

A lack of inspiration filled by the rebirth of the Scandinavian thriller, largely carried by the Millenium saga of Stieg Larsson, subsequently adapted to the cinema. A lightning success, which opened a breach in which Jo Nesbo is engulfed with talent. Considered a Michael Connelly who came from the cold, his works quickly caught the interest of foreign producers.

The Snowman is one of them and seemed to have the means to fulfill his ambitions. It features the investigator Harry Hole (a name that we would rather have seen in a comedy), recurring hero of the author, launched in the pursuit of a frightening killer of women. Aware that the murderer is playing with him, he decides to look for clues in the many cases of disappearance that have occurred in Norway for years.

Despite a cast made up of Michael Fassbender, Rebbecca Ferguson, JK Simmons and Charlotte Gainsbourg, it is indeed the presence of Tomas Alfredson that had something to delight moviegoers. In just two films, the Swedish director has established himself as an artist to follow. Morse upset the codes of the vampire film while La Taupe gave back its letters of nobility to a genre in disuse. But the chaotic production of his latest film seems to have got the better of him.

If his technical mastery is not really to question, the interested party filming the great outdoors in a convincing way, it is around storytelling that the shoe pinches. At no time does the film manage to think outside the box. The violent murders follow one another, and eyeing the sticky style of a Seven without ever reaching the intensity.

They thus act as narrative chapters, attempting to relaunch every half hour an investigation whose outcomes we seem to know very early on. The too neutral staging does not manage to create a feeling of terror in the face of the crimes committed, nor a real expectation around the next. Rather than focusing on the stalking, the film operates several digressions supposed to lead us by the nose.

We thus pass from the political conspiracy to the underground prostitution network, which we throw here and there like the ingredients of the perfect little scandi-noir thriller that you must have seen. If it worked well in Millenium or Les Enquêtes du Departement V , this false search for density weighs down the narrative even more here. It is completed by the moral redemption of the main character, who is necessarily an alcoholic policeman who abandoned his children. A similar observation for the killer whose justifications would not make Freud fall backwards. Unless you haven’t seen a thriller in the past twenty years, it will be hard to be moved by the twists and turns presented here.

Without shining, Michael Fassbender plays his role, accompanied by a more nuanced Rebecca Fergusson. However, the desire not to export the story outside of its country of origin creates a confusing discrepancy. We are therefore surprised to see JK Simmons (a native of Detroit) defending the Norwegian committee at the Olympic Games. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s French accent crowns the impression of an American production disguised as a feature film with Nordic accents.

The Snowman may advance in the guise of a Scandinavian film, he has neither the substance nor the modesty. Its too smooth staging does not manage to take off a story entangled in its own scenario quagmire. Despite his experience and a solid cast, Tomas Alfredson struggles to create and maintain the tension inherent in the genre. By dint of evolving on slippery ground, his film ends up completely falling into the water.