Sunday, May 27, 2012

Film Review--Smilla's Sense of Snow

starring Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Jim Broadbent, Tom Wilkinson, Richard Harris, Robert Loggia, Vanessa Redgrave, Bob Peck, and Ann B Davis as The Beav.

A young boy falls to his death from a roof in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Smilla (Ormond) is a woman who lives in the building and was a close friend of the boy.  Since the kid was afraid of heights, Smilla begins to suspect that his death was no accident.  With only a mysterious downstairs neighbor known as "The Mechanic" (Byrne) to stand beside her, Smilla finds herself going deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that might leave her dead.

I am currently reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Like that book, this film is an entry into what certain critics are calling "Nordic noir."  These are crime stories or other mystery/thrillers set in Scandanvaian locales.  While I have not yet finished reading TGWTDT, I am over two-thirds of the way done.  I feel that barring an enormous turn around in the plot, I may safely say that Smilla's Sense of Snow is a far superior tale.

This goes beyond the typical murder thriller.  There are complex characters brought to life by capable actors and set against a backdrop that is forelorn and cold.  Besides, the whole thing starts off with a meteor crashing into the ice of Greenland.  That certainly gets the attention of someone like me, but you're left wondering through most of the film just what it has to do with a young boy's death in Copenhagen.  The correlation is surprising, but not forced.  Let's just say that it has something to do with geology and the tight script makes the relationship seem effortless.  This movie truly kept me biting my metaphorical nails, unlike the vemtose tome by Larsson. 

If I have any real criticism, it is with the ending.  Things just seem to rapidly fall in place when they should have been given time to breathe.  There are also one or two contrivances to help us towards a happy ending.  That said, this is a film I really enjoyed.  It will hopefully grace my collection one day.

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