By Bartosz Szarek (Nowy Sącz, Poland)
I am almost certain that none of the people responsible for the creation of The Snowman (2017), a film adaptation of the seventh Jo Nesbø’s novel, have never seen Jack Frost (1998, T. Miller). As distinct from snowman created by Troy Miller, the one introduced by Tomas Alfredson and collaborators is not eager to make jokes, he is irritable, naughty and he is not going to atone for the sins of omission. He will be killing. But it has to be admitted – he is equally hilarious as the first one.
During the recruitment review, the main character of The Circle (2017, J. Ponsoldt) was asked about her biggest fear. Her answer was: the wasted potential. And this is the Alfredson’s feature adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s crime novel. It is wasted potential, theme and idea for a full-blooded film. Evidently since The Counselor (2013) Ridley Scott’s, we haven’t had the opportunity to watch so many great actors and makers, whose role would reflect in so “small” production. Direction of the author of Låt den rätte komma in (2008) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). Screenplay materials provided by one of the leading representatives of Norwegian Nordic Noir – Jo Nesbø, who marked his presence in the production.
Conversion of novel into film language of Hossein Amini, the person responsible for the screenplay to memorable Drive (2011) by NWRefn and Peter Straughan to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Sundancesque Frank (2014) directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Soundtrack by Marco Beltrami, author of the scores to the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker (2008) directed by Kathryn Bigelow or appreciated by the critics The Homesman (2014) by Tommy Lee Jones. Last but not least, Thelma Schoonmaker, an excellent editor, three times Oscar-laureate cooperating for many years with Martin Scorsese. Although, official sources attribute editing to equally Oscar-nominated Claire Simpson except that for Platoon (1986) by Oliver Stone. And needless to say – powerful cast: Fassbender, Ferguson, Gainsbourg, Kilmer and Simmons… It couldn’t go wrong. But it did.
Apart from the fact that Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is a “great” detective, he is also a “great” drunkard, but in a Hollywood style, who is found in one of the first film scenes degraded on the park bench with an empty bottle in hand and a giant hangover, so that to the rest of the film didn’t drink even tiniest amount of high-proof spirit. In the context of “alcoholism” of the main character, the Norwegian police seems to be excessively lenient, because in their view Harry is a living legend, genius, mastermind of criminology and Sherlock Holmes of the Vikings country in one person, although what we see on the screen simply contradicts it. Hole is not Holmes, but the worst detective impersonation since the inspector Jacques Clouseau.
Harry joins forces with the new recruit – Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), whose zeal, charisma, physical activity as well as highly developed critical-analytical thinking and knack to the new technologies knocks spots off Harry; she starts to connect old criminal cases dug up by Hole with new brutal occurrences on the Norwegian lines, because she knows that she must solve the puzzle, before the psychopath will begin to build snowmen from human limbs.
I have never read a book written by Jo Nesbø, but I assume that since the author of Snømannen (2007) sold large number of his novels, it means that the presented world must have been the world full of events as well as processes, and above all the characters flesh and blood. And I’m not talking here about victims, but behavioural sketch of the character. On this plane, the Alfredson’s work is boring, clichéd and mediocre. The plot has more holes than Jarlsberg cheese. Adaptation of the seventh novel written by Nesbø with Harry Hole as the protagonist is like, for example, discussing the fifth season of Game of Thrones (2011-) without watching the previous four. In Alfredson’s film particularly noticeable in the context of relation Harry-ex-wife Rakel (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Additionally two extremely important and absolutely interesting by -plots: the one with J.K. Simmons as dissolute Arve Støp, spokesman of Oslo candidacy as the host of Winter Games, as well as Val Kilmer and his Rafto, partner from work and from glass of Harry Hole, who almost completely lost his head (literally!) for “the snowman” from Bergen – were abandoned in the half run without clear emphasis.
Baseline, creative and cast wealth and wasted potential. This is how the Alfredson’s film can be summarized. His previous work – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a clear virtuosity of skillful, slow and intelligent building suspense. Låt den rätte komma in nearly a decade ago let in strong breeze of originality, constituting effective gateway from the pulp of American horror. The Snowman is a victim of brutal gang rape, with screenwriters, editors, proposed directors-producers and powerful however uncommitted cast fingerprinted. The defendants plead not guilty.
Harry Hole: We’re looking into disappearances, some recent, others dating back several years. The pattern is disturbing.
Katrine Bratt: I transferred from missing persons.
Harry Hole: Hi-ho.
Katrine Bratt: We studied your cases at the academy.
Harry Hole: They date back that far.
Katrine Bratt: Yeah, you’re up there with the legends.
DCI Gunnar Hagen: [to Harry] I can’t keep covering for you. It doesn’t matter who you are.