Review by Alyn Darnay
Directed by: Jill Sprecher
Written by: Jill Sprecher and Karen Sprecher
So I started watching this film and I said to myself, “self, what’s this all about?” It seemed dull, dull, and dullier. “What was Greg Kinnear thinking when he took on this role?” Then all of a sudden, the film takes this funky turn and I’ve fallen through the ice and am absorbed in the story up to my neck…and it keeps getting better and better. With rapid and unexpected plot twists and turns and a climax that just sings, Thin Ice is a small gem of a film with great performances and a crafty everyman story.
Very reminiscent of both (Fargo-1996) and (A Simple Plan-1998) for it’s Bible-Belt characters and wintery location, Thin Ice carves out a place all its own that holds your attention and takes you on a dangerous journey of deceit and double-dealing.
The story goes like this, a Wisconsin based con-man insurance salesman (Greg Kinnear), separated from his wife (Lea Tompson), broke, and precariously near the end of his rope, discovers that an elderly client (Alan Arkin), whose account he stole from a new associate, has inherited an extremely valuable violin from his ailing sister and is not aware that it’s worth $25,000. Hatching a plan to grab the violin and sell it himself, Kinnear tries to build a friendship with the befuddled old man. But Kinnear is hopelessly out of his depth and that’s when things start to get really complicated.
Kinnear is wonderful in his endless desperation, Arkin is masterful as the old man, and Billy Crudup is explosively dangerous as a locksmith caught up in the whole scheme. The writer-director team of the Sprecher sisters (Clockwatchers-1997), themselves Wisconsin natives, show they have an intimate knowledge of their subject and place it on the screen beautifully, warts and all. Good job Everyone.
Thin Ice gets all the elements just right, taking the audience on a wild ride with an abundance of cannily plot contortions combined with some wonderful comic touches that will have you agonizing right along with the main character. It is a solid, enjoyable film experience.
THIN ICE is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Time: 97 min.