Smilla’s Sense Of Snow (1997)

(On DVD, June 2003) Surprisingly faithful adaptation of Peter Hoeg’s best-selling thriller, though not without flaws: Julia Osmond is too cute to play Smilla, but the overall plotting is rather similar. Fortunately, the film improves the often languid pacing of the book, through often highlighting important clues in doing so. (Sometimes even using musical cues!) The film is as cold as the setting, but it usually works well given the context. The story may start as a thriller, but elements eventually amplify to make the film evolve towards a more strictly science-fictional climax. (The nature of the resolution works better in the book, but the film can’t take the luxury to smooth the transition. Furthermore, the altered ending of the film is rather more conventionally satisfying than the book’s abrupt end.) Fans of the novel will be pleased, and so will everyone exasperated by the extra verbiage of the original. The Greenland scenery is often spectacular and acting credits are high, with many familiar faces rounding the cast. The DVD whets our appetites with an intriguing featurette on the challenges of filming in Greenland, but stops shy of giving us anything more on the making of the film.

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