The Ice Harvest (2005)

Rated R. Our ratings: V-7; L-6 ; S/N-6 .

Running Time: 1 hour 28 min. How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their way preserve their lives.
Proverbs 16:16-17

The Ice Harvest

This Harold Ramis film noir works counter to the season in which it is set, Christmas. It is a world so dark that it is similar to the alternate world that the angel Clarence, in It’s a Wonderful Life, shows to despairing George Bailey had the latter not been born, one dominated by the greedy banker Mr. Potter. Only in this world there is no angel named Clarence, and Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) is no George Bailey! Charlie is a mob lawyer, “the best mob lawyer in the state of Kansas,” as his drunken friend Pete (Oliver Platt) keeps saying, to Charlie’s discomfort in the bars they frequent on Christmas Eve in Wichita Falls.

Charlie has partnered with Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton) to steal two million dollars from his boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). They plan to flee the next morning, but must wait until the next day. Charlie has two misgivings about their situation, the first being that as he gets out of the car, Vic holds onto the satchel of money. To his partner’s “You have a problem with that,” he replies that he does not. But of course, he will. Secondly, he is uneasy to see a well-known mob hit man come into a bar and ask for him. Those whom this killer seeks out seldom are seen again.

Although Charlie is employed by a mobster and now a thief himself, he is not rotten to the core. He cares about people, including Pete, the man who married Charlie’s ex-wife, In Charlie’s Christmas Eve visit to see his children we see that Charlie is far better off than Pete to no longer be married to the woman, and after a flare up, Pete leaves to drown his sorrows in a bar, and Charlie accompanies him to make sure his friend gets home safely. There is more, much more, including a possible relationship with Renata (Connie Nielsen), sultry bar manager. This film definitely is not for those wanting a warm-hearted Christmas film—it probably would be near the top of Scrooge’s list of Christmas films—but for those who like film noir, the performances of the excellent cast in a tale of double-dealing and mayhem will be appreciated. I find it intriguing that the director/writer of one of my favorite films Places in the Heart, Robert Benton, is the co-author (along with the film’s director Richard Russo) of this dark tale.

The Ice Harvest Rated R. Our ratings: V-7; L-6 ; S/N-6 . Running Time: 1 hour 28 min.

How much better to get wisdom than gold!

To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their way preserve their lives.

Proverbs 16:16-17

This Harold Ramis film noir works counter to the season in which it is set, Christmas. It is a world so dark that it is similar to the alternate world that the angel Clarence, in It’s a Wonderful Life, shows to despairing George Bailey had the latter not been born, one dominated by the greedy banker Mr. Potter. Only in this world there is no angel named Clarence, and Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) is no George Bailey! Charlie is a mob lawyer, “the best mob lawyer in the state of Kansas,” as his drunken friend Pete (Oliver Platt) keeps saying, to Charlie’s discomfort in the bars they frequent on Christmas Eve in Wichita Falls.

Charlie has partnered with Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton) to steal two million dollars from his boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). They plan to flee the next morning, but must wait until the next day. Charlie has two misgivings about their situation, the first being that as he gets out of the car, Vic holds onto the satchel of money. To his partner’s “You have a problem with that,” he replies that he does not. But of course, he will. Secondly, he is uneasy to see a well-known mob hit man come into a bar and ask for him. Those whom this killer seeks out seldom are seen again.

Although Charlie is employed by a mobster and now a thief himself, he is not rotten to the core. He cares about people, including Pete, the man who married Charlie’s ex-wife, In Charlie’s Christmas Eve visit to see his children we see that Charlie is far better off than Pete to no longer be married to the woman, and after a flare up, Pete leaves to drown his sorrows in a bar, and Charlie accompanies him to make sure his friend gets home safely. There is more, much more, including a possible relationship with Renata (Connie Nielsen), sultry bar manager. This film definitely is not for those wanting a warm-hearted Christmas film—it probably would be near the top of Scrooge’s list of Christmas films—but for those who like film noir, the performances of the excellent cast in a tale of double-dealing and mayhem will be appreciated. I find it intriguing that the director/writer of one of my favorite films Places in the Heart, Robert Benton, is the co-author (along with the film’s director Richard Russo) of this dark tale.