Thin Ice (ATO Pictures)
Rated R for language, and brief violent and sexual content.
Starring Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, Lea Thompson, Bob Balaban, David Harbour, Michelle Arthur,Mike Hagerty.
Written by Jill Sprecher and Karen Sprecher.
Directed by Jill Sprecher.
I've been a Greg Kinnear fan since his days on the E! Channel's Talk Soup, and have considered him one of the most talented and underused actors since he broke into films. I don't know if it's his smarmy personality or subtle humor, but he doesn't seem to get much casting love other than supporting roles and the odd indie film. Kinnear stars in Thin Ice, another indie film that might have a tough time finding an audience.
Kinnear plays Mickey Prohaska, a less-than-scrupulous insurance agent who embarks on a scheme to bilk a hermit-like retiree named Gorvy (Alan Arkin) out of a priceless violin while trying to evade a less-than-stable locksmith (Billy Crudup) who murders Gorvy's friend and enlists Mickey to help dispose of the body.
As Mickey deals with the murder at Gorvy's farmhouse, he must also deal with extreme debt, his failed attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife (Lea Thompson), and the repercussions of a drunken tryst at an insurance convention.
Just when it seems Mickey will get caught up in his own web of lies, the story takes a surprising twist that leads him into an unexpected destination.
Thin Ice actually premiered at Sundance over a year ago under another title (The Convincer) to mostly positive reviews. After the premiere, the film's distribution rights were purchased by ATO pictures, whose brass demanded that the film be re-edited, given a new musical score and a new title, much to the protestations of the the movie's director.
Having never seen the original, I cannot but wonder what might have been different, but I can say that Thin Ice suffers a little from an identity crisis, despite being reminiscent of modern noir films like Fargo and caper movies like Oceans 11.
Greg Kinnear plays the unprincipled insurance man to a tee and displays the complexities of a man who has no problem cheating the system, but has a hard time drawing the line when it comes to more drastic means like murder. Arkin is also his usual understated funny self, and other supporting actors compliment their performances.
The problem with Thin Ice is the aforementioned identity crisis. While the movie starts out as a carbon copy (albeit less clever) version of Fargo, its twist left me with a slight feeling of bait-and-switch; not really sure how I'm supposed to feel about Mickey or his character development, or if he ever discovers his character at all. Some of the dark humor kept me interested, but I'm not sure it was worth it. With Fargo, the noir was never betrayed.