In frozen, shabby Wichita, Kansas, Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) is a lawyer for a local mob personage. It’s not a great job: Miserable hours, depressing working environments and minimal benefits. Charlie has a plan to change all of that – namely, steal over two million dollars on Christmas Eve and get out of town – a plan that’s going to require the help of Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton), a steely middle-manager in the same crime organization Charlie pushes paper for. As The Ice Harvest opens, Charlie and Vic have stolen the money; that was easy. What’s going to be hard is getting away with it – but all they have to do is stay quiet, act casual and kill a few hours before they head out for somewhere warm and far away as their Christmas present to themselves. It’s not going to be that easy…

… And it’s not going to be that exciting, either. Directed by Harold Ramis, The Ice Harvest is a film where the big names in the credits (not just Ramis, Thorton and Cusack but also screenwriters Robert Benton and Richard Russo) somehow wind up making for a very little movie. Charlie wants to get out of town, but while he’s waiting, he figures he might as well do a few things – have a drink with his old friend Pete (Oliver Platt) and make one last fitful try at seducing strip-club manager Renata (Connie Nielsen), whose world-weary but retro charms have always made an impression on him. As Charlie tries to act normal at Renata’s bar, the Sweet Cage, she knows something’s up, but can’t put her finger on it: “It’s against my religion to give people advice, but you should either sober up or get real drunk. …” It’s against my religion to give film makers advice, but everyone involved in The Ice Harvest would have done well to follow a similar all-or-nothing philosophy.

categories Reviews, Cinematical