Smilla's Sense of Snow

Adapted by Ann Biderman from the popular Peter Hoeg novel and directed by Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror, The Best Intentions), this is a watchable conspiracy thriller, but, as with most conspiracy thrillers, the first half is a lot more watchable than the second: the more one discovers, the less interested one becomes. Playing a troubled and not very likable loner who's half Greenlandic Inuit and half American, Julia Ormond—a lot more interesting here than she's been on previous star outings—plays a spiky recluse obsessed with solving the mystery of the allegedly accidental death of a six-year-old Inuit neighbor. This leads to a complex investigation whose facts become steadily more outlandish. Others in the cast include Gabriel Byrne, Richard Harris, Robert Loggia, and, in a cameo, Vanessa Redgrave. Jorgen Persson's 'Scope cinematography is handsome; the imitation Bernard Herrmann score is by composer-by-the-yard Hans Zimmer, working with Harry Gregson Williams.

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