Liverpool Sound and Vision * *
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainbourg, Jamie Clayton, James D’Arcy, David Dencik, Toby Jones, Sofia Helin, Jacob Oftebro, Anna Reid, Jonas Karlsson.
It could be deemed our own fault, the height of expectation drawn from the Nordic Noir television and film dramas has been of such good quality, that as an audience we perhaps think that any drama set in the north of Europe is going to reap the same beneficial advantages of story-telling, that the quality bench mark cannot falter. An expectation sadly not realised when it comes to The Snowman.
That is the nature of the beast when it comes to expectation, like a down pouring of snow which brings delight to children, can make a scene look as if it has stepped straight out of a fairy tale, or at least one where the witch will offer you some hot Turkish delight in exchange for your loyalty, it will within a short time, turn to slush and seep in through the hardiest of exteriors and make everything around it unsatisfying and cold.
With perhaps the exceptions of the superb J.K. Simmons, Jamie Clayton and Val Kilmer, who seemed to relish being in a much understated role, the rest of the cast, despairingly fell short, almost having had all the degrees of possible emotion sucked out them and replaced by the tepid waters of a film that was devoid of energy.
The Snowman arguably had a lot of potential, the crime thriller is always one that catches the imagination, especially in the positive waters of the U.K. where murder on screen or in literature is habitual adored, not because it is relished over but because of the swift restoration of justice that accompanies it. That restoration of the notion of justice in this case is only achieved by blotting out half of The Snowman, of removing the coal from its eyes and replacing them with two coins for the ferryman, with any luck the River Styx might be warm enough to inject passion into the film, if not at least it will soon erase its existence.
Expectation is a cruel mistress, a film that does not live up to its potential is one that has let itself go; The Snowman is that feeling after a good downfall, you just know it will end up as slush that needs shovelling away.
Ian D. Hall