Not all the dots con­nect in The Snowman

The Star Early Edition - - TONIGHT | FILM - MASEGO PANYANE

BASED on the sev­enth book in the Harry Hole se­ries by au­thor Nor­we­gian Jo Nesbø, The Snowman is a solid film that sadly gets cold to­wards its very end.

Of­ten, when books are adapted to film they leave a lot to be de­sired. This film works be­cause it can stand on its own with­out re­ly­ing too much on the ap­peal of the books, which is a good thing: it must make sense as a co­her­ent whole, whether you’ve in­ter­acted with Nesbø’s work or not. But while for a large chunk of the run­ning time the film does just that, there are dots that just won’t con­nect.

At the heart of the film is a multi-lay­ered de­tec­tive Harry Hole (Michael Fass­ben­der) who is bril­liant in his de­tec­tive work but is a trou­bled man with an al­co­hol ad­dic­tion. Hole finds him­self rather un­wit­tingly in­ves­ti­gat­ing a se­ries of mur­ders that boast an un­usual call­ing card: a snowman with cof­fee beans at ev­ery crime scene.

The case is brought to Hole’s at­ten­tion by a new of­fi­cer in his depart­ment, Ka­trine Bratt (Re­becca Fer­gu­son), who claims she has been trans­ferred from the miss­ing per­sons depart­ment in Ber­gen. She seems star struck by Hole, to such an ex­tent that she men­tions im­me­di­ately that she stud­ied his cases at the academy.

Hole be­comes sus­pi­cious of Ka­trine when he re­alises that she has in her pos­ses­sion cold case dock­ets. And she is not au­tho­rised to have them. It later turns out that Ka­trine is ac­tu­ally on sus­pen­sion by the Ber­gen po­lice depart­ment af­ter go­ing against the rules in an at­tempt to crack the case of Nor­way’s first ever se­rial killer, dubbed The Snowman. A case that is rather close to home be­cause she be­lieves her fa­ther, mav­er­ick de­tec­tive Gert Rafto (Val Kilmer), was mur­dered by The Snowman.

Hole rou­tinely gets cryp­tic notes from The Snowman, which he con­sis­tently ig­nores un­til he re­alises what the notes mean. The same, we see in flash­backs, hap­pened to Rafto be­fore he ul­ti­mately had his head blown off with a shot­gun by the ma­niac se­rial killer. The killer left the head of a grim faced snowman where Rafto’s head would have been.

It seems the snowman tar­gets women who have chil­dren with dif­fer­ent fa­thers. And he loves de­cap­i­tat­ing the women and plac­ing their heads on the tops of snow­men.

The film gives us a num­ber of sus­pects, one of them a creepy man (JK Sim­mons) who is in the fore­front of Nor­way’s World Cup bid. He has an equally un­ap­peal­ing side­kick, Dr Idar Vetle­sen (David Denick) who, for the long­est time in the film, seems to be the mur­derer. It all comes to a head when bodies and a cell­phone be­long­ing to one of the miss­ing women are re­cov­ered at Vetle­sen’s res­i­dence.

There are as­pects of the film that didn’t make sense. Such as the pro­logue that sees a wo­man that is reg­u­larly ha­rassed by a cop take her own life.

The wo­man, who seems to have be hav­ing an il­licit re­la­tion­ship with the cop, is beaten up ev­ery time her son gets a his­tory quiz an­swer in­cor­rect.

Af­ter suf­fer­ing through watch­ing the slaps his mother re­ceives, the young man picks cof­fee beans on the floor when he picks his mother up.

He then runs out to go and build a snowman. This is the first we see of the grim snowman with the cof­fee bean smile. One would as­sume this is the se­rial killer’s back­story, but it could also so eas­ily be Harry Hole’s. It’s a bit con­fus­ing.

The boy’s mother leaves him or­phaned af­ter she takes her own life by driv­ing the car onto a frozen lake.

There’s also a scene where a man pre­tends to be clean­ing Hole’s apart­ment but ac­tu­ally isn’t the reg­u­lar cleaner. Why was that man in Hole’s apart­ment? Also, the re­la­tion­ship between Hole and Bratt seems aw­fully un­clear.We can’t tell if they have a men­tor­mentee re­la­tion­ship or whether some­thing more ro­man­tic is hap­pen­ing.

De­spite th­ese mo­ments, the sto­ry­line is co­her­ent, mostly. I also loved the rugged in­ten­sity of Fass­ben­der as Harry Hole.

Michael Fass­ben­der as de­tec­tive Harry Hole in The Snowman.

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