Thin Ice Review

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Beware of anything with strings attached

by AVForums Jul 1, 2013 at 8:00 AM

  • Movies review

    Thin Ice Review

    Beware of anything with strings attached

    Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) is a small time insurance agent, desperate to get out of Wisconsin (land of two seasons, winter and road works) and find a warmer, more affluent life. When new client and senile farmer Gorvy Hauer (Alan Arkin) finds an old violin that belonged to his departed sister, it turns out to be quite valuable and Mickey works out a way to separate him from it. Things spiral out of Mickey’s control when crooked locksmith Randy Kinney (Billy Crudup) gets involved, murders one of Gorvy’s neighbours and threatens to blackmail Mickey unless he helps dispose of the body and split the profits with him.

    This movie has had something of a precipitous journey to our screens. Directed by Jill Sprecher – and written by her in conjunction with her sister Karen, the film was originally called The Convincer and was premiered under this name at the Sundance festival. At that point, there was no distribution deal in place, and when the movie was taken on by ATO, they insisted upon a complete re-edit, as well as a new score. Jill Sprecher was not involved in the re-edit and it is reported she has distanced herself as far from the project as her contract allowed. The original edit has unfortunately not been released – and is unlikely to be so, so it is not possible to compare the two. The reason for the re-edit was around the pace of the movie, which was considered to be too slow. The re-edit still chugs along at a very slow pace, particularly for the first forty minutes or so, which lull you into a false sense of security. It is only really when Randy the locksmith shows up that the movie really gets going and things get up to speed.

    Maybe the original name would give too much away about the movie, as there are plenty of twists including the finale, which will probably come as a complete surprise. Along the way, the central character – Mickey, becomes more and more embroiled and becomes completely unable to extract himself from the situation he finds himself in. To be honest though, you feel very little sympathy for him, as it is his petty greed that got him into the situation in the first place. It is revealed he has very few family ties or dependents, so if he fails, it will only be his own life he will wreck. This lack of pity does prevent you from really getting under Mickey’s skin, with Gorvy appearing as the wounded party.

    I am sure there is a good story in here somewhere, but for the first forty minutes or so, it feels more like a poorly written TV movie than a mainstream release. The humour is far too buried on first viewing to make an impact upon the pace and the characters although strongly presented, do not fully convince. The whole thing feels very “small town” – closed in and insular, while the limited range of locations does nothing to defeat the notion. All that being said, the last twenty minutes or so are extremely enjoyable and the humour starts to peek through. Without giving too much away, watching the film a second time – with the knowledge of the final twist, allows you to discover a little more of the humour and enjoy the occasional highlights of dialogue.

    This really is a film of two halves. The pedestrian opening and character establishment detracts from the pacier, funnier closing, which is a shame, because once it gets going, it is not a bad movie. None of the cast really stand out with a particularly performance, but neither does anyone do a bad job either. Do watch this movie a couple of times before forming an opinion, at it has that quirk of changing its character once you know the ending. A cautious recommendation for those that enjoy a thriller with a twist.

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