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Smilla's Sense of Snow
Starring Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne
Screenplay adaptation by Ann Biderman
Directed by Bille August

As always, Cranky makes no comparison to the Source material, in this case the best selling novel by Peter Hoeg.

It must have been a damned fine novel, because there was a massive crowd waiting to get into the theater where Smilla's Sense of Snow was sneak peaked. They were waiting outside, because every single seat inside was filled.

The people on the outside were better off. The people who spent a measly $6.99 for the Dell paperback are the wisest of all, because if the book was as good as the crowd's demand, it must have yielded hours of reading pleasure.

Which brings us to the two hours in the dark watching Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne walk through the kind of script Cranky likens to a smorgasbord -- set in Denmark and Greenland, Cranky admits to being off the cultural map by just a tad. Smilla's Sense of Snow is like a smorgasbord because everything that was probably gripping or colorful in the book and I say this from past reading and viewing experiences of similar bombs was forced lock stock and toothpick into the script. Just like trying to eat one of everything on the bord, do so and you'll feel ill.

If it had kept to the basics, Smilla would have been a gripping tale of suspense and conspiracy and misdirection. A beautiful, special effect filled prolog, set in 1859 seems woefully unconnected to the accidental death of a six year old, who fell five stories off the roof of his apartment building in Copenhagen. His neighbor and friend, Smilla (Julia Ormond) knows immediately that it was no "accident." Half Inuit by birth, she has an innate "sense" of snow, and how it falls and how it is crushed by a moving foot. To her eye, little Isaiah ran, terrified, off the roof.

Of course, Cranky could have told you that something was rotten in Denmark, for after falling five stories into a thin snow crust, there was no blood anywhere when the body was peeled off the street. Cranky has learned to ignore stuff like this -- but such a big deal is made when Smilla tracks the murderer through the snow and ice of Greenland by a blood trail, that he won't.

That gets ahead of it all. Smilla is an emotional cold fish, and is played well by Ormond, Smilla's neighbor (Gabriel Byrne) wants to help, but she puts him off. Until she decides not to. There is poorly written love dialog -- you can't call it seduction, because it isn't, and the story quickly deteriorates into bits and pieces. A police conspiracy here, a murder there, some pseudo-scientific viral nonsense and a living meteor round off the themes. That mess is only topped by an incredibly ineffectual supporting cast, including a casino owner who is just a shade shy of Eric Idle's slimy Monty Python "know what I mean? Know what I mean?" character.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Smilla's Sense of Snow, he would have paid . . .


Lovely scenery, when you get to see it.

Click to buy films by Bille August
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