Add a Review

  • Bille August's "Smilla's Sense of Snow" starts off with great promise. An opening sequence that's a terrific hook segues into an introduction of the character of Smilla Jasperson, played perfectly by the lovely Julia Ormond. Smilla is self-isolated, deeply unhappy, and unapproachable. Her only real friend is the young Inuit boy, Isaiah, who dies suddenly under suspicious circumstances, and Smilla determines to uncover the reasons for his death. For the first two reels, this film is a terrific mystery story with good pacing, fine acting, and evocative cinematography. Characters with uncertain motives come and go as the story unfolds, most played by a fine stable of talented actors. But then in the third reel, the film collapses. I'm not talking about a slow descent into mediocrity here; I'm talking about a precipitous nosedive. Out of the blue, the story suddenly switches to an action/thriller format that is poorly written, directed, and edited. New, undeveloped characters are suddenly thrown into the mix, each a deus ex machina as the increasingly unrealistic plot requires. The film's denouement, in which the underlying mystery is revealed, is so scientifically ridiculous both in terms of biology and especially in physics that I felt thoroughly cheated. It's as if the entire enterprise were rushed to completion due to a looming shortage of time, money, and interest. What a pity. Even so, the first two thirds of the film stand up well on their own, and my rating is based on that. Rating: 7/10.
  • n a cold December day in Copenhagen, a young boy named Isaiah falls to his death from the roof of the block of flats where he lives. The official police view is that he slipped and fell while playing on the roof. Smilla Jaspersen, a neighbour of Isaiah and his mother, does not accept that his death was an accident. Isaiah had a fear of heights, so was unlikely to have been playing on the roof; moreover, the footprints in the snow do not support the police version. Smilla therefore decides to start her own investigation to find out what really happened.

    Isaiah and his mother belonged to Denmark's Greenlandic minority, and Smilla herself grew up in Greenland, the daughter of a Danish father and Greenlandic mother. She is in her late thirties, and works as a freelance mathematician and expert on the physics of ice and snow, although she has no formal academic qualifications. She discovers, however, that Isaiah's father was an employee of a Danish mining corporation and that he died in mysterious circumstances during an expedition to Greenland organised by this corporation. She begins to suspect that Isaiah's death was also in some way linked to the company, and learns that they are organising another voyage to Gela Alta, a small island off the coast of Greenland, although she does not know what the object of this voyage is. Nevertheless, she believes that the key to the mystery lies on this remote island and joins the crew of the ship as a stewardess, just ahead of the police who resent her interference in the case and are trying to arrest her.

    This was one of those films that I enjoyed more than the original novel. Peter Hoeg's book was itself in some ways reminiscent of a film. The first half, with its urban setting, its tough, gritty investigator and its suggestion of a web of corruption and wrongdoing in high places, reminded me of a Humphrey Bogart style film noir, and the second part, set on the ship as it makes its way through the Arctic ice, of one of those filmed versions of Alistair MacLean thrillers that were so popular in the sixties and seventies. I found, however, that it suffered from an over-complex plot and was too slow moving to work as a thriller. Bille August's version removes some of the complexity of the plot and moves along at a faster pace. The revelation about exactly what lies below the ice comes earlier in the film than it does in the book- possibly August realized that the book's ending, more science fiction than science fact, was one of its weak points, and wanted to get this detail out of the way to allow the closing scenes of the film to concentrate more on the battle between Smilla and the villains. The film keeps, however, the book's atmospheric sense of place- there were some wonderful shots of Copenhagen in winter and of the Arctic ice.

    Julia Ormond seemed to be the cinema's Big New Thing of the mid-nineties. Her role in 'Smilla's Sense of Snow' followed starring roles in three big Hollywood films, 'Legends of the Fall', 'First Knight' and 'Sabrina'. Since then she seems to have disappeared from the radar altogether and I have often wondered what has happened to her.. Her performance in 'Smilla', however, is a good one and she makes an appealing heroine. Rather more appealing, in fact, than Hoeg's original character, who combines a strong sense of justice with a gift for rudeness and sarcasm. Of the other actors, the best was Richard Harris as the chief villain, although he was probably considerably older than the character envisaged by Hoeg.

    Although it is very different in its visual style, this atmospheric thriller is perhaps the nearest that the modern cinema comes to old-fashioned film noir. Despite its weaknesses it remained watchable throughout. It confirmed my view (based on 'Pelle the Conqueror' and 'The House of the Spirits') that Bille August is a highly talented director. 7/10
  • I thought the trailer looked great and the acting talent involved really is quite impressive: Julia Ormond, Richard Harris, Tom Wilkinson, and Gabriel Byrne. Not to mention that the story looked interesting. And the cinematography is just amazing--very beautiful, very cold. So, what went wrong? Sadly, the film is crippled by the script. It's the kind of story where the protagonist knows exactly the right bits of obscure information and knows exactly the right people who can give her exactly the information she needs to unravel the mystery. Not only that, she can rappel off the side of a ship like nobody's business. In his review of this film, Ebert said it was "a triumph of style over substance." The style is definitely there, but just before it triumphs, something completely illogical is said or done that breaks the suspension of disbelief the film tries so hard to build up. As for the actors, I got the feeling that they just didn't know what to do with their characters, none of which were very well-rounded. Even Smilla, a unique female protagonist in that she is very intelligent and independent, is not given enough of a personality or a background to inspire the viewer's compassion. And anyway, it's not her intelligence that gets her to the end of the story, it's the fact that she's got more guts than any hero I've ever seen in a movie, male or female. The only truly likable and memorable character is Isaiah, if only because he's just an impossibly cute little kid. In the end, while the movie is aesthetically pleasing, not enough attention was paid to developing a plausible story, well-drawn characters, or a satisfying ending.

    P.S.--I almost forgot to mention that Vanessa Redgrave does a very nice job but has to say the line "There is no Mr Lubing. I am the bride of Jesus", which just cracked me up, even though I think it was supposed to be a serious moment.

    P.P.S.--The absolute highlight of the movie is a little speech Smilla gives about numbers. It's actually very unique and insightful and, fortunately, it's in the Memorable Quotes section.
  • This mystery picture begins on a crashing-meteor opening and concerns about Smilla(Julia Ormond), a lonely scientist resident in Copenhagen. The grumpy Smilla is an half-America and half-Inuit with many problems of adaptation and her father(Robert Loggia) is a rich financier. When she returns home discovers the body of six-years-old friend named Isaiah(Miano) nearly her apartment building. Smilla believes the kid was killed and starts investigating , it leads to the Greenland mining company that is owner the magnate Tork(Richard Harris). Meanwhile she falls in love with her suspicious neighbor(Gabriel Byrne).

    The picture based on Peter Hoeg's best seller novel packs suspense,thrills,intrigue, tension and interesting character study. The story is well developed though its final fail to sustain the outcome and is a little bit crappy. Suspenseful and mysterious musical score by Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams. Exceptional secondary casting mostly formed by British actors such as Jim Broadbent,Vanessa Redgrave,Bob Peck, Tom Wilkinson, among them. Evocative and cold cinematography is consistently created by Jorgen Persson, Billie August's usual cameraman.Location photography is particularly breathtaking with impressive images like a large icebreaker ship, snowy outdoors and giant floes thawing, among others. This partially successful first attempt at the thriller and tense mystery is efficiently directed by August. Billie is the Danish's best director, an expert on intelligent dramas as ¨Pelle the conqueror¨which took the best foreign-language film Oscar , ¨Twist and shout¨,¨The best intentions¨, ¨House of spirits¨, and ¨Les Miserables¨. Rating : Well worth seeing, better than average.
  • Based upon the bestseller by Peter Hoeg, "Miss Smilla's feeling for snow", it would have been hard for the movie to disappoint. The performances by all are exceptional, not least Julia Ormonds portrayal of Smilla, as icy as the landscape that involves (and evolves) the movie. The movie has an almost poetic feel, so beautifully is it paced, and the story draws you in steadily as Smilla searched for the truth behind her young friends death. There are enough surprises, twists and turns to keep most people happy, and the warmth of the two leads performances are in great contrast to the snow that provides the story. I couldn't recommend this story enough to fans of the book, or anyone who is interested in seeing a movie that is not your ordinary run of the mill hollywood movie, but one with depth, character and genuine emotion.

    Superb.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Parts were good but does not stand up on the whole. Very unrealistic and un-researched, asking the audience to swallow a lot of basic inconsistent crap, something that would get most continuity people fired in today's market. Eg. Why are they simply standing around an un-fenced off pool of deadly organisms in a pristine lab setting, not to mention that it's surrounded by slippery ice. Also, what was this GM's crime anyway? (He was likely doing what would have been done anyway by his own employees but with government regulation and observation.) The infection of the boy was not intentional. Not disclosing it was illegal but the child was treated/observed. Nowhere in this film is it mentioned or even properly implied that the boy might have been an experiment or that treatment was withheld purposefully so that they could watch the organism evolve in a human subject. It was implied though that the disease was untreatable and fatal in every case, that to disturb the "worm" was to invite catastrophe. That the boy was necessarily misused was not clear at all. Nor was it necessarily communicated that any kind of haste or greed was ultimately responsible for what happened, not at all. Director and screenwriter were asking a lot of the audience that should have been delivered by them. This also struck me as an exercise of moralization by people who were over their heads in the subject matter and taking their first run at it, making a lot of mistakes along the way and aimed at an audience whose level of candor/maturity was not up to the more rigorous detail and syllogisms of genuine ethical debate.

    Gave me a large headache.
  • I read the book before I watched the movie. Usually I am not too fond of films made after a book. This is one of the rare exceptions.

    The makers succeeded well in capturing the complexity of the book's characters. Julia Ormond does remarkably well as the moody, unpredictable Smilla Jaspersen. So does Gabriel Byrne in the role of the rather secretive Mechanic. The brilliant Richard Harris is in here too, one of the many movies he probably said that it would be his last. The rest of the cast fits in well. Nice to see that they didn't try to get all big names, but rather actors who can fill a role appropriately.

    Of course the movie isn't perfect, but in order to give that book full credit, they would have had to make a 4 hour film. Especially the second part, with all the events on the ship and in Greenland, is rather condensed. Those scenes could have used a bit more air to breathe, less pace.

    Nevertheless I really like this movie, I have been watching it several times already. And now I think I am going to read the book again... (8/10)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The only mystery was "whatlipstick is our heroine wearing?" It is a wonderful color, softly shining and lasts throughout - except at the climax when it starts to fade! Contrasts nicely with Smilla's beady eyes (admittedly quite large) as she stares at the camera. There are so many questions - why am I watching this (rainy evening), what is the role of the police in the plot (surely it is unusual in Denmark for the police to enter an apartment and sit in the dark waiting for the owner to return), how much money does an unemployed person in Denmark get (Smilla's haircut did not come cheap!), how does a worm live in a meteor, what was Smilla looking at through her microscope......... All the old stalwarts are there - Gabriel Byrne, obviously trying to remember where he is; Richard Harris, mercifully silent so just playing with his hair; Vanessa Redgrave, doing a wonderful imitation of Ingrid Bergman in "Murder on the Orient Express". We have the Deus ex Machina - just like in Diva - here is it the Father - kindly, wise, wealthy, with the answer to all questions; he does however enliven his days with the only amusing character, a ballet dancer.
  • I really, really, really liked this movie. Yes, I know the plot was a little twisted and the ending was very confusing and somewhat unbelievable at times, but this was a great movie. Julia Ormond's portrayal of the ice princess is absolutely fantastic. This has got to be her best role ever. With SSOS, she proves that she is not just a movie star, but that she is also a damn good actress. The supporting cast is superb. All first class actors, Vannasa Redgrave, Richard Harris, and Gabriel Byrne. I love Byrne's portrayal of the mysterious mechanic. Yes, he could have done a better job but that didn't hurt the movie. I have heard so much criticism from others regarding this film but the bottom line is, you either love it or hate it. I happen to love it. This is a great thriller/mystery/sci-fi/drama. Did I mention Gabriel Byrne, as good looking as ever? 9/10
  • A scientist who heads up a mining company in Greenland discovers a way to make money and garner power. However, in doing so he endangers others. After a child supposedly commits suicide, a woman who has doubts about the death begins an investigation in behalf of the dead boy. Her life is then threatened, but she never gives up. Eventually, she comes face to face with her enemies on a lonely ice floe far to the north. At times the story was hard to follow, and I felt it had a few holes in it. Sometimes it just didn't make sense. Still, it was worth the seeing.
  • Anakin-1515 June 1999
    I was surprised to see that IMDb users had given this movie a 7.0. It's really pretty terrible. I gave it a 3.0, and that was being generous. It's ridiculous, opaque and all around pretty stupid. It's empty of any emotion or believability. I had no sympathy and very little interest in the characters. Every time I started to get interested or began to like someone, something ridiculous or stupid happened. I was very disappointed in this movie. What did I miss? How come everybody liked it?
  • A strong beginning segues clumsily into a dark and confusing middle.

    • Plot devices spring up out of thin air, with little rhyme or reason. EG, the powerful daddy, the buddy with nautical connections, ad nauseam.


    • For most of the film, the lead actors seem to swallow the majority of their lines, which are anyway spoken so low as to be unintelligible. If I hadn't had closed captioning, I wouldn't have understood half the dialogue. Is this a thing with "artsy-house" films?


    • Does Gabriel Byrne have narcolepsy here, or does he simply wish he were in a more intelligent movie?


    Too bad, if it had kept up with the strong beginning, this could have been an excellent film. What a waste of talents like Robert Loggia and Bob Peck.

    Summary: better than any sleeping pill.
  • I had first read the book on which this movie is based a couple of years ago. It started out really well, but after a point it just spiralled out of control into crapdom.

    The movie, on the other hand , is crap all the way. The storyline was thin anyway to start with, but the acting just layers it with more junk. The dialogue is plain stupid and cliched. For example, before kissing the mechanic Smilla says "Have you heard the phrase that I did not know what I was doing after getting drunk" or something like that...and this scene along with almost the entire movie has been acted with such boredom by all the actors (What was Richard Harris doing in a movie like this?)that I literally went to sleep. (Please note that the phrase "literally went to sleep" makes no sense...just like the movie!)

    The only thing that kept me awake was the beauty of Denmark and Greenland. Thanks god for that.

    NOTE: For all of you out there...there is a new weapon that can be used against girls, as showcased in this movie. Get her where it hurts most...Her crotch!! Yeah..its disgusting isn't it...But that's the only scene that fits perfectly with the rest of the movie. Totally pointless and obtuse.

    Well, I can write much better than this...But just to make the point about how bad the movie was...I'll follow suit.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *****spoilers***** Long drawn out story about an Inuit/Eskimo boys seemingly accidental death from a fall from the roof of the apartment building in which he and his mother lived in Copenhagen and ending up in the icy northern waters off Greenland. With an massive explosion that put an end to a 30 year quest for an energy producing meteorite.

    This meteorite crashed into that cold ice capped sea some 150 years ago that carried on in a colony of pre-historic worms. These alien worm came to life when the meteorite hit the waters and some 150 years later infected and killed four men from the expedition, including the boys father. This happened when they came in contact with the melt water around the meteorite.

    The movie "Smilla's Sense of Snow" held one's interest up to a point with Smilla, Julia Ormond, a mathematician coming home one afternoon and finding out that the boy Isaiah, Clipper Miano, who Smilla befriended was killed from a fall from the roof of the building. Taking a personal interest in the boys death Smilla checks out clues that leads her to the Greenland Mining Company which employed Isaiah's father in that expedition.

    Smilla soon learns that Isaiah was being monitored by the company monthly to see if he was infected by the worms that killed his father and his three fellow workers. That's because Isaiah also went into the melt water himself to try to save his father but nothing seemed to have happened to him. The movie starts to get confused and falls apart when Smilla begins to overcome odds on top of odds with bodies falling all around her as she gets to the meteorite crash site with the chief villain Tork, Richard Harris. With him not having a clue to who Smilla was and what she was up to until the very end.

    Smilla wasn't exactly that secretive about her intentions with every one, the police the Greenland Mining Company as well as the hospital staff that attended the boy ,knowing about her intentions. With the unexpected hero, besides Smilla of course, turning out to be her wimpy and weird neighbor Mechanic played by Gabriel Byrne. It was Mechanic who in the end turned out to be a James Bond type undercover man who was both undercover as well as under the covers with Smilla during the entire movie.

    In the end Tork, as well as the confused theater audience, gets the story straight to what really happened to the young Eskimo boy from Smilla just before the whole expedition site exploded and with Tork himself deep sixths in the cold icy Arctic waters.
  • Julia Ormond has been known to be typecast as the woman in between or the center of a love triangle as seen in films like "Legends of the Fall," "First Knight," and "Sabrina." But in "Smilla's Sense of Snow," Ormond is beautiful, tough, intelligent, and gives a powerhouse performance as Smilla a Greenland-born woman who has lived her life in self-isolation. She is bitter, angry, often times cold and detached and she avoids all human connection by pushing people away including her own her father (Robert Loggia) until she befriends a little boy named Isaiah, an Inuit who lives next door. Smilla and Isaiah bond and become close until one day Isaiah is found dead with what the police rule as an accidental suicide while playing on the roof of their apartment building. But Smilla knows better when she looks at the scene of the crime and notices that little boy's foot tracks on the snow go running straight to the edge of the building. Smilla begins to investigate the young boy's death and along the way she is acquainted with another neighbor and friend of Isaiah (Gabriel Byrne) with whom Smilla begins a relationship that she resists. I liked this movie with the exception of the "X-Files"-like ending, but this film is worth watching for Julia Ormond who should've been given an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her performance...flawed script, but an intriguing character played beautifully by the classically lovely Julia Ormond.
  • This is a fairly low-key for a crime story, a tale about a woman trying to find out why a young boy fell from a rooftop to his death. I had high hopes for this movie but the last 35-40 minutes were so disappointing that I'd never watch this again. That ending had so many holes to it, it was mind-boggling.

    I like Julia Ormand, who plays the lead character, but she's a bit surly and rough with this character. I also enjoyed seeing scenery in Denmark and Greenland, not the normal sites for crime film movies. Few films, I imagine, have been made in Greenland with its brutal temperatures. (There is a fascinating very short featurette on Greenland that comes with the DVD.)

    Perhaps worth a rental, but only with a discount coupon, meaning don't spend more than $3 to look at this. Heck, you can buy it for $5 most places, which tells you something.
  • The accountant was all faith; the boy's mother was all incoherence (no matter whether she was drunk, sober, or just lost her son, incoherence seemed to be her only response to it); Benja was all pouty and spiteful (for no apparent reason); and Smilla was all rude. Yes, we are given a "reason" for that, but if at her age, you still don't have a *basic* grip on your childhood issues, you're more likely to make a pitiable hero than a likable one. While I found the plot easy enough to follow, I found it somewhat difficult to care for its "heroes."
  • A recent second viewing of this film did little or nothing to dispel any previous doubts; indeed, they seemed to gang up on me. Perhaps partly due to having also seen recently for the third time, Bille August's 'The House of the Spirits' (qv), I found my mind wandering over trivial 'ifs and buts' and other vagaries of more or less similar ilk. There is something wrong with the chemistry somewhere, but I just cannot put my finger on it. Maybe it has something to do with a Danish director with British actors in a Chilean scenario; and so it goes with 'Smilla': more British actors in København in what evidently is a very Danish story.

    Julia Ormond is, any way, one of the most beautiful actresses to ever adorn my TV screen; however she just does not come off as being remotely inuit, however much sacrilegious make-up they might want to plaster all over her face. Frankly, they should not. In 'First Knight' (qv), where she was of course radiantly beautiful, the film is a derailed farse. Here, as 'Smilla' she plays her rôle well - but seems rather more like a gorgeous Mediterranean woman than anything approaching Groenlandic in your wildest dreams.

    The only way Bille August is ever going to convince me of anything like authenticity, is when he decides to cast the appropriate people in films according to the nationalities in question. Apart from those complaints, 'Smilla's sense of snow' is an interesting detectivesque story which finally just does not convince.
  • This is really a piece of art, with a great performances by wonderfull all-star casts. Many said that book was much better, which is true to some extent, but the movie depicts very well the atmosphere of the novel. Julia Ormond was very believable as Smilla, who was half-Inuit and English, gave her best performance to date. Gabriel Byrne was excellent as always. The whole cinematographic experience was really beautiful. This work is true gem....
  • This is not your ordinary whodunnit. Others don't have the extraordinary character of Smilla Jaspersen, a transplanted Greenlander living in Copenhagen. She seems to know everything about snow and ice--as a little girl she couldn't get lost in her native Greenland. "As you have a sense of God, I have a sense of snow," she tells a nun early on. Smilla's stoic demeanor, cool even for a Scandinavian, hides a passionate heart. When an Inuit boy she has befriended is found dead, she is fiercely determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and nothing in the world will be able to stop her. As the quest goes on Smilla goes from appearing to the viewer as simply a quirky oddball to almost a superwoman, a female James Bond.

    Trouble is, the ultracool personality of Smilla, the low-keyed nature of the other main character played by Gabriel Byrne, and a host of complicated plot details combine to slow this film down at many points, but towards the end the action picks up considerably, giving us some old-fashioned thrills. This movie is not really for those who only go for the standard flash-bang type of action thriller, but those who enjoy the unusual, the offbeat, and character-driven movies may well find it worth their while.

    Julia Ormond plays Smilla. This is the first film of hers I've ever seen, and the picture I have of her in my mind is inseparable from the character. It makes me wonder as it did when I saw Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate" or Andy Griffith in "No Time for Sergeants"--is this a great actress totally immersed in a character to the point where she becomes one with it, or is it an actress basically playing herself and really only capable of playing that one role? Experience has shown me that I'd better give her the benefit of a doubt! Whatever the case this is a memorable role for her, and one she can be very proud of.
  • If you like movies about finding justice against a corrupt and overwhelming system, in which the heroine is both clever and good looking, watch this Smilla in action. It's not easy to find this film for rent, so I bought a copy and hope to watch it again soon.
  • Seeing a film preview and Julia's and Gabriel's billing drew me to this movie. I did not know of the book, but I found the title unique and when I said the title to others, they did not understand. I think a different title, easier to say, would have helped draw audience to the movie, like "Sense of Snow." People did not recognize the name "Smilla" and especially having to say it with an "s" as "Smilla's." Definitely a different and very interesting setting and intrigue, as in the study of the parasite. I did not know what Greenland cities looked like. I was drawn because of the two main actors, especially Julia, after loving her work in "Legends of the Fall," "First Knight," etc. I was disappointed that this was one of these movies that you must "catch" in the first week of billing or you will miss it on the large screen. I searched for it on cable until I found it and now have a copy for myself so I can re-watch. Memphis is building a new movie theater complex strictly to show independent films; I am excited about that; otherwise, you really have to watch the newspaper for upcoming independent and unique films that create the character portrayals that are the most interesting and dramatic. I was curious throughout the movie about Gabriel Byrne's character's honesty to Smilla.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Totally idiotic watermelon (green outside red inside) attempt at a thriller with evil mining (of course) corporation and unethical power hungry doctors.

    Julia Ormond in this feminist masterpiece is about as appealing as a bear trap despite her looks and expensive designer clothes. Any man who would go after her after a bout of her crotch snatching and razor slashing verbal rudeness would have to want to be neutered.....but that is what feminist movies are about I guess.

    It starts out fairly good but the story becomes more and more stupidly unbelievable.....at the end it is just an insult to anyone's intelligence. What's wrong? The whole story is unbelievable and as lame as a very bad Hollywood "B" sci-fi movie from the 50s.

    The Copenhagen police are searching for her so she goes to stay with her Dad and enters one door as the police leave by another...gee they are dumb and easy to fool I guess. This is just one of an endless stream of things that get worse as the film progresses.

    Don't get me wrong I care about the environment and the $32 million worth of West Greenland and Copenhagen scenery are actually very nice. I was actually glad the Inuit seal hunter got tsunamied in the beginning.....but I suspect in this twisted PC thing that was not what the director intended.

    It reminded me a lot of a movie The Hunter about the last Tasmanian Tiger who is killed to keep some evil corporation from finding out the poison it uses to kill prey---both movies have idiotic completely distorted ethical compasses.

    In this movie a possible non-radioactive perpetual source of energy unknown by known physics is deemed evil??? Can't have that because some "prehistoric" tapeworms in the melted ice water near it have killed a few people??? Worse yet a Mining Corporation might get rich of it. Dumb dumb dumb I can't find the words. As one viewer stated it is like the dumbest science fiction movie from the 50s. However at least in them you didn't have to put up with feminist agendas...just giant radioactive ants...No, they were better than this story when I think about it.

    Cost $32 million grossed $2 million (in US).

    DO NOT RECOMMEND
  • thniels18 November 2002
    A jagged and incoherent narration of an otherwise brilliant story. The movie can best be described as how children write essays, on the form... "Smilla did this. Then she found out that. Then she watched this. Then she did something. etc. etc.". Really not what one might expect from Bille August who is an otherwise excellent storyteller. Peter Hoeg is an expert author who includes plenty of pause in his novels letting you wonder yourself and fantasize as to what is going on on the sideline helped by a painstakingly accurate description of the characters. These pauses must be substituted with cuts in a movie, not leaving the audience time to ponder and thus there must be subplots to support the build-up of the characters. This is exactly what this movie is missing. It has no subplots.

    The scenery is pretty and winter-twilighty. This could have helped show a Danish winter as it can be but failed and cast the movie with a depressing shade of grey.

    The intro, however, was spectacular. Not so much the wave plunging through the pack ice - but the anticipating stance of the man waiting to harpoon a seal. When filmed from behind (where we could see the meteor dropping) he looked exactly like a tupilak figure. THAT was beautiful.
  • "Smilla's Sense of Snow" captivates at first, but by the end, I found myself struggling to care. It's not for a lack of effort. Everyone here seems game, but there's too much working against them.

    Calling it a murder mystery would unfairly ignore the film's subtleties, yet at its heart, that's what it is. Unfortunately, "Smilla's" neglects the standard murder mystery practice of doling out little nuggets of information periodically to keep viewers interested. It takes a long time before you see anything substantial enough to call a development in the case. Before that, there's a lot of mood, a lot of flashback, and a lot of Julia Ormond snarling at those around her. Which brings us to problem number two.

    Ormond delivers a solid performance, but her character isn't very likeable. Yes, they kind of explain why, but it still didn't make me care whether she discovers how/why her young neighbor died.

    I think some people might really enjoy this film. I'm just not one of them. 5/10.
An error has occured. Please try again.