The Snowman is a spooky Nordic Noir film, directed by Tomas Alfredson. Starring Michael Fassbender, as Oslo detective Harry Hole, and featuring the marvelous actress Charlotte Gainsbourg as Rakel Fauske, his former love interest. Rebecca Ferguson co-stars as a Katrine Bratt, a new recruit to the Oslo Police Force. The film is based on Jo Nesbo’s crime novel, “The Snowman”.
Nordic Noir is a genre of filmmaking that juxtaposes grisly murder against a Scandinavian landscape, and the film has loads of it. The murder mystery is set against the breathtaking wintry Norwegian landscape and cityscapes of Oslo and Bergen which take front and center in the film’s narrative. Fassbender plays an alcoholic cop who becomes involved in a cat and mouse game with a serial killer dubbed ‘The Snowman’ because he leaves a snowman as his calling card at the crime scenes. Ferguson works alongside Fassbender in solving the crimes but has her own axe to grind in finding the culprit. The murder victims are carefully selected and are mostly mothers and/or expectant mothers which fuel the dramatic tension. The murders , the crime investigations and the killer’s backstory weave themselves throughout the narrative creating dramatic tension that carries the film to the end.
I am susceptible to images depicting horror and violence, and the images in Snowman depict real horror. They affected me on an emotional level. The images are frightening and gruesome, and tugged at my emotions especially as the sub-text of the film is misogyny and violence against women and against their reproductive rights. I shuddered not only from watching icy cityscapes and landscapes but from the horror the Snowman committed. Two of the most horrifying scenes in the film involve decapitated bodies and birds. The first is the broods of chickens feasting on the decapitated body of Sylvia Ottersen played by Chloe Sevigny and the second is a colony of seagulls feasting on the dismembered body of Frederik Aasen’s wife. Was the director Alfredson paying homage to film director Alfred Hitchcock, and his film The Birds? I can only speculate.
I liked the film and would have liked it even more with a paired down narrative. It crammed too much information in its two hours. Of course, everything in the film is crucial and relevant to the narrative and the plot but it felt disjointed moving from murder to murder and flipping from present to past and vice versa. Snowman features a stellar cast including James D’Arcy, Val Kilmer, Toby Jones, Fiona Reid, and Chloe Sevigny to name a few but their presence on screen is minimal. Kilmer plays Gert Rafto, an alcoholic Bergen detective who investigates one of Snowman’s first victims and tragically loses his own life when he gets close to unmasking the killer’s identity.
You’ll love the cinematography and the sweeping wintry shots of the Norwegian landscape. If you are a fan of Nordic Noir, you’ll love it. If you are a fan of horror or murder mysteries, you’ll enjoy The Snowman. If you are a fan of the actor Michael Fassbender, you’ll enjoy his performance as Detective Harry Hole.
Universal Pictures releases The Snowman on Friday, October 20, 2017