Thin Ice - DVD Review

'The lead character is a horrible everyday man and that's exactly the problem: why the hell should we be interested in him, or laugh at him, in a film that clearly wants us to do both?'

Given its very obvious leanings towards Fargo, a film writer/director Jill Sprecher must know is extremely highly regarded by many, you would have thought Thin Ice (also known as The Convincer) could perhaps try a little bit harder to be a little bit better. As it is, it takes its Coen-esque plot and runs it out without much further discourse, generating a film slight in feel and tone, muddling the elements that make a great Coen farce what it is.

The key problem is central character Mickey (Greg Kinnear), who's never nice enough to love nor wild enough to be interested in. Kinnear plays him exactly as written: a schlubby chancer who's been caught out by his wife on one too many occasions. Desperate to make the next step up, Mickey rolls around stealing small notes colleagues have dropped and treating his secretary (Michelle Arthur) like crap. He gets thrown out of his house, battles an elderly client (Alan Arkin) and tries to keep his new hire (David Harbour) pleased enough that he gives him business. He's a horrible everyday man and that's exactly the problem: why the hell should we be interested in him, or laugh at him, in a film that clearly wants us to do both?

Things finally liven up when a psychopathic Billy Crudup turns up as Randy, an accomplice to the crime Mickey finds himself perpetrating, but even then, coping with the quirks that Randy brings to the narrative just feels like another in a long line of problems for Mickey: something else to be taken in his increasingly-glum stride.

Finally Sprecher and her co-writing sister Karen do make a point by pulling a rug from under all those who thought the writers were never going to bother. It feels though very much like a pyrrhic victory. Is there really much value in revealing the actual interest of the story when you've spent the previous ninety-odd minutes trying to make your film appear to be as uninteresting as possible? In the pantheon of great twists, taking that approach will not score highly.

On the plus side, Arkin is predictably good and the little-seen Crudup cuts lose more than the rest of the subdued cast, but that really is clutching at straws. Even the snowy Wisconsin countryside isn't given time to breathe or shine, making this indeed thin stuff. The wafer variety, in fact.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.


  1. Oh God, this movie. Crudup's my favorite actor, which is why I saw it, but, as you indicate, he couldn't save it. I read, though, afterwards that the studio took the film away from the Sprechers in editing and that then the Sprechers tried to take their names off the final product and some sort of legal nonsense prevented them from doing so. May explain things.

    1. You can see how it could have been the product of that sort of mess. Would be interested to know at what stage it was decided to have that reveal, that late on.