The Films of Tomas Alfredson
Bert: The Last Virgin
Screwed in Tallinn
Four Shades of Brown
Let the Right One In
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (December 4/11)
Based on the novel by John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy follows Cold War-era secret agent George Smiley (Gary Oldman) as he attempts to ferret out a mole contained within the upper echelons of British Intelligence. Director Tomas Alfredson, working from Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan's screenplay, has infused Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with an almost excessively deliberate pace that isn't, at the outset, as disastrous as one might have feared, as the film's evocative and palpably atmospheric visuals prove instrumental in initially capturing the viewer's interest - with the perfectly watchable vibe heightened by a selection of uniformly stirring performances. (In addition to Oldman's expectedly first-class turn, the movie boasts strong work from folks like Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and John Hurt.) There's little doubt, however, that the film's pervasive lack of context becomes more and more problematic as time goes on, with the frequently baffling narrative compounded by a curious absence of high-energy interludes and, ultimately, triggering Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's transformation from a promising political thriller into an often interminable period drama. The film's progressively uninvolving atmosphere prevents the viewer from working up any real interest in Smiley's endeavors on an increasingly demonstrable basis, which inevitably ensures that the movie's final half hour is simply unable to pack the visceral gut-punch that Alfredson has clearly intended. The end result is a meticulously conceived and executed adaptation that is, unfortunately, dramatically inert virtually from start to finish, and it does seem entirely likely that one's appreciation for the film is directly related to one's familiarity with the original source material.
Based on a book by Jo Nesbø, The Snowman follows Norwegian detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) as he's reluctantly drawn into a case involving several missing women. The degree to which The Snowman eventually goes off the rails is especially disappointing given the relative strength of its opening stretch, as filmmaker Tomas Alfredson does a fairly effective job of establishing the central character and his decidedly isolated environs - with the watchable atmosphere perpetuated by a mystery that does, at the outset, hold a fair degree of promise. (This is, after all, a killer that leaves a snowman at the scene of each crime.) Problems emerge as the screenplay, written by Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini, and Søren Sveistrup, grows more and more convoluted as time progresses, with what should've been a straight-forward thriller slowly-but-surely morphing into a seriously baffling piece of work. (There are, for example, a series of flashbacks with Val Kilmer that add nothing to the story and, worse still, remain entirely unexplained.) It's consequently not surprising to note that one's interest dwindles steadily in the buildup to the laughably underwhelming climax (ie the murderer turns out to be the most obvious character one could've imagined), and there is, in the end, little doubt that The Snowman has completely and utterly squandered any ounce of potential it may have initially possessed - which is a shame, really, given the palpable paucity of adult-oriented thrillers in the contemporary cinematic landscape.