Smilla’s Sense of Snow

Smilla’s Sense of
, based on the novel by Peter Hoeg and directed by Bille August from a
screenplay by Ann Biderman, is another film in which far too much is going on.
At its most basic, it is about the search by the beautiful young Smilla (Julia
Ormond) for the murderer of a six year old boy whom she had befriended. But the
solution to this mystery falls foul of the movie version of
Occam’s razor — namely that
entities must not be multiplied unnecessarily. Why was it not enough simply for
the boy to have caught some disease, or been irradiated through the negligence
of Greenland mining? Instead, we are given a whole (as it turns out mostly
undeveloped) construct involving a strange radioactive meteor from outer space
that fell over a hundred years ago, was discovered 30 years ago, then
rediscovered and made the subject of an expedition on which several divers had
died from infection by a prehistoric worm which the meteor had inexplicably
brought back to life from extinction.

Hold it! Why do we need all this just to make the well-worn point that the
big corporation is greedy and wicked? Why do you do it? Smilla asks the evil
Tork (Richard Harris). “Money. Fame.
More money,” he says. Well, that about
sums it up, doesn’t it? It is a pity
too. One comes away from the movie wishing one had seen more of her relationship
with her father (Robert Loggia) and his awful wife Benja (Emma Croft), who is
Smilla’s age, or with the Inuit woman
whose son died, or with the strange and mysterious mechanic across the hall
(Gabriel Byrne), or even with the equally mysterious Elsa Lübing (Vanessa
Redgrave) with her Bible talk about the key to hell. But all those gorgeous
arctic scenes and the charming and enigmatical Smilla herself — who confides
that “the only thing that makes me
truly happy is mathematics: snow, ice
numbers,” who does what she does
because “a child died;
it’s my New
Year’s resolution to make someone
pay” — seem to have been called
into existence in all their sibilant similitude only to prove that corporations are bad, greedy and ruthless.
Haven’t we heard that somewhere

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