The Snowman Review

Snowman, The

Michael Fassbender stars as Harry Hole, jaded alcoholic detective, in this adaptation of the bestselling book of the same name by Jo Nesbø. Lee reviews.

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While film is an important and popular format in the audio-visual medium, a number of adaptations aren’t exactly cut out for it; one form, despite its popularity amongst the masses, happens to be the mid-length airport shelf mystery novel, the genre which The Snowman happens to fall into.

It’s not that the pieces don’t mostly fit the jigsaw – they do, even if some are a little warped and tattered and you have to wedge them together with brute force. A slow, lingering mental thriller where the plot threads dangle over your head while you and your surrogate detective bash clues together to get to a coherent result; exactly the kind of work that might struggle to fit the structure required of a two hour pulse-racing thrill-ride. Conversely, it does manage to work – in parts – but overall you do have to wonder why your jigsaw lies on the floor like a partially raised parallelogram.

Now television; there I can see your resolution. Multiple hours allows you to flesh out your backstories and your time jumps, spend more time raising suspicions of your suspects, delve a little deeper into the political struggles that paint a backdrop for the crimes being committed, etc. Pour half the money spent on getting cool panoramic scenery shots into a few dozen more sets and you’ve got yourself a working ecosystem with which to tell a well-paced and involving murder-mystery.

Regardless, there’s quite a lot to like in The Snowman – a demure cast of characters that very rarely overreact or fit neatly into straight-up clichés, a setting that gives and gives in rich imagery and political intrigue, a killer whose method of murder is both simple and terrifying; there’s plenty to recommend here. But each pro comes with an equivalent con as the finer efforts all fall flat in a story that has neither the time nor the clarity to make any real statement with their inclusion, and so each recommendation must come with a tempering of expectations to that effect.

A rainy-day recommendation, and a well-made one at that, but little more. Hold out for a TV adaptation; or read the book, if you’re so inclined.

B

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