There are several things one might say about “Thin Ice”; unfortunately, some of them must remain unsaid. Set in the wintry Midwest, the movie is a dark, twisty crime thriller that recalls the Coen brothers’ snowbound “Fargo” and John Dahl’s switcheroo classic “The Last Seduction.” It features colorfully comic performances by Greg Kinnear (in sleazeball mode), Alan Arkin (doing a variation on the windy codger he played opposite Kinnear in “Little Miss Sunshine”), and especially Billy Crudup, who charges the film memorably as a menacing psycho.
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Kinnear plays Mickey Prohaska, an egocentric ass who runs an insurance agency in small-town Wisconsin, where he hard-sells clients to buy more insurance than they could ever need. Mickey is living beyond his means and is up to his lying mouth in debt–to the point of emptying out the joint bank account he shares with his wife Jo Ann (Lea Thompson), who’s now understandably estranged.
After poaching a hotshot salesman (David Harbour) from a rival insurance agency, he acquires a new client, an irascible farmer named Gorvy (Arkin), who lives in a big house out in the countryside with his dog and an accumulation of junk that includes an old violin. When Mickey learns, surreptitiously, that the violin is anything but junk–that a Chicago luthier (Bob Balaban) has determined that it’s actually a rare instrument, and is willing to pay Gorvy $25,000 for it–his larcenous mind shifts into scam-hatching overdrive.
But his scheme for separating the old geezer from his violin is soon complicated by the arrival of Randy (Crudup), a shifty security-systems workman who turns up at Gorvy’s house one day to install a burglar alarm. Randy is an ex-con with a penchant for theft himself. He’s also prone to fits of raving violence, and before long things get bloody, and Mickey finds himself sinking into a bog of blackmail and much worse.
Read the full review at Reason.com