The Ice Harvest

0
0
Subscribe to John Cusack alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 23rd November 2005

Production compaines: Focus Features, Bona Fide Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: John Cusack as Charlie, Billy Bob Thornton as Vic, Lara Phillips as Rusti, Bill Noble as Culligan, Brad Smith as Ronny, Ned Bellamy as Sidney, Connie Nielsen as Renata Crest, Mike Starr as Roy Gelles, T.J. Jagodowski as Officer Tyler, Meghan Maureen McDonough as Francie, Oliver Platt as Pete Van Heuten, David Pasquesi as Councilman Williams, Randy Quaid as Bill Guerrard, Jenny Wade as Cupcake

The Ice Harvest Movie Review


Harold Ramis hasn't been kind to his own reputation in the last few years. One of the few uncontested great comedy filmmakers, he's diluted his resume with serviceable but still watery products like Bedazzled and the unfortunate duology of Analyze This and Analyze That. So while his newest, the Christmas noir comedy The Ice Harvest isn't Ramis's best work, it's also the sharpest thing he's done since Groundhog Day and hopefully the sign of more interesting things to come.

With a heart as black as exhaust-stained slush, The Ice Harvest is based on a novel by that jolliest of writers, Scott Phillips (A Simple Plan). Taking place over one long, frozen and grimy Christmas Eve in Wichita, it all starts with Charlie Arglist (John Cusack), a lawyer for the local crime syndicate, handing off a bag to his cohort, Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), the bag containing over $2 million they stole from the Kansas City boss, Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). Vic hides the money and he and Arglist split up for the night, aiming to get the hell out of town in the morning. Being a noir patsy, Arglist proceeds to drink, draw far too much attention to himself, flirt with the local fatale (Connie Nielsen, dead wrong for the job at hand), and get more and more suspicious about Vic's motives. Paranoia ensues when one of Guerrard's gunsels starts poking around the seedy joints that Arglist has been hanging out in.

Anybody with even a passing familiarity with crime fiction can see what's coming about a mile down the icy road before Arglist, so it's a good thing that the screenplay gives Cusack plenty to stay busy with until the hammer comes down. Richard Russo and Robert Benton's writing provides plenty of nice, dry moments for Cusack and Thornton to hide the fact that this is all just waiting, a fait accompli. Although the film has a surprising - for Ramis - lack of hijinks and escapades (though a subplot with Oliver Platt as Arglist's drunk boor of a friend provides slapstick relief), it does share with Groundhog Day a certain world-weariness that elevates the occasional mundane goings-on. All the characters seem frozen in their own bored despair - this is hardly the glamorous criminal life. The recently divorced and fairly clueless Arglist wants to escape, but even he knows that on the off-chance he and Vic get out alive with the money, there's little hope of a bright new life waiting for either of them, just more of the same in a different location.

If The Ice Harvest had continued playing things close to the vest in this downbeat manner, it might have pulled off this tricky balancing act of hopelessness and black ice humor. Thornton and Cusack are a perfect match of witlessness and malice, the two could star in an adaptation of just about any Jim Thompson noir out there (Cusack's last try, in The Grifters, didn't quite cut it), but we're left with far too little of them and too much of Arglist blundering about the frozen streets, digging himself into deeper holes wherever he goes. Additionally, the delicately crafted deadpan noir mood goes seriously awry during the conclusion, as Ramis starts to force the jokes instead of letting them come naturally. It's an unfortunate development, as until the final stretch, this is a wonderfully nasty film, the thimbleful of arsenic in the Christmas punch that Thornton's overpraised Bad Santa was supposed to be.

Whatever its failings, The Ice Harvest remains a worthy addition to the holiday season, a smart and angst-ridden piece of crime existentialism that loses only its nerve, never its brain.


Contactmusic

0
0
Subscribe to John Cusack alerts

Comments

The Ice Harvest Rating

" OK "

Advertisement

More John Cusack

Entourage Trailer

After making a name for themselves in Hollywood, Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends from Queens have finally made a movie. The only problem...

Bastille - Things We Lost In The Fire [Live] Video

Live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta, Bastille perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire', the final single from their debut album...

Bastille - Oblivion [Live] Video

Bastille perform their single 'Oblivion' live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta. The track followed Platinum hit 'Of The Night' and featured...

HAERTS - Interview Video

Brooklyn band Haerts released their self-titled debut album this year, and here they talk about how they first got into music, their lifelong friendship and...

Advertisement

Mark Ronson - Daffodils ft. Kevin Parker [Audio] Video

Mark Ronson will finally unveil his fourth album 'Uptown Special' on January 26th 2015 through his new label deal with Sony Music. He has teamed...

Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin [Live] Video

Meghan Trainor performs her latest single 'Lips Are Movin' at one of her favourite places in the world: an aquarium. The song features, alongside smash...

HAERTS - Be The One [Live] Video

Haerts perform an intimate live rendition of their song 'Be The One', taken from their self-titled debut album released in October 2014 through Columbia Records....

ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night Video

ScHoolboy Q released his first number one with third album 'Oxymoron', and he now unveils the video to its latest single 'Hell Of A Night'...

Advertisement