Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sydney Film Festival: The Iceman (2012)

Year: 2012
Director: Ariel Vromen
Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans. David Schwimmer, James Franco, Stephen Dorff
The Iceman will be screening at the Sydney Film Festival on the 8th and 10th of June 2013.

It is hard to be a gangster film. There are so many amazing films in it's class that so much is expected of you and you have to live up to moviegoers expectations.

The Iceman isn't a bad film, but it is certainly not one of the best gangster films. Truth be told, this isn't your typical gangster film, but definitely falls into that category. It is an interesting enough watch with some good performances, but the state of the film due to bad editing choices makes it all just confusing and a bit of a mess.

The Iceman is based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), the notorious American contract killer who is said to have killed up to 100 people. The film begins when Kuklinski meets his future wife, Deborah (Winona Ryder), who remains oblivious throughout the whole film as to what Kuklinski actually does for a living and the crimes he has committed. The film spans over the period of 22 years from the time that he first comes attracts the attention of mafia boss, Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) to his final arrest in 1986.

Although this film is based on real events, there are many inaccuracies in the movie. This may have been done to protect the family or to liven the film up and is really not that big an issue, but it is important to remember if you are using The Iceman as a history lesson that it is only based on true events and is not actually a re-enactment of true events. The film is interesting enough and the great thing is that it does provide some suspense as to the safety of his family and of how he is going to be caught.

There is not much to be said about the cinematography and editing of this film. It's not particularly impressive visually nor is anything done to enhance the audience's senses outside the character's actions and dialogue. Director Ariel Vromen has made some bad decisions in regards to how the screenplay will be played out on screen. There are several times during the film that one scene cuts to another in a future time period and there is no indication how long has elapsed or even that any time has elapsed. This makes it very confusing for the viewer.

The other problem with the editing is that there are some scenes which don't seem exactly relevant. The scene between Kuklinski and his brother, Joey (Stephen Dorff) has some relevance to the conclusion of the film, but it feels very out of place where it is and like it has just been thrown in to any part of the film so that Vromen can say something about Joey right at the end.
The Iceman

Michael Shannon is very good as Richard Kuklinski. His ability to portray the sociopathic tendencies of the character is scary, but his ability to break lose and show intense emotion at the right times is brilliant. The chemistry between Shannon and Winona Ryder is very good, as is Ryder's performance. Ryder plays the mother and wife role well and is extremely likable, although you do wonder how she can't tell that she is married to a killer.

Besides Shannon and Ryder, the only other actor who creates a real impact when on screen in Chris Evans. He is extremely unrecognisable in his screen time and gives a performance like no other you have seen from him. He is actually so interesting to watch that he is almost likable, even though the acts he commits are unforgivable.

Ray Liotta is good, but it seems as though this is starting to become a semi-typical role for him so his performance is clearly not a stretch at all for him.David Schwimmer is actually quite good with the smallish role that he has and James Franco, although having little screen time as one of Kuklinski's victims, is also quite good.

It would seem that The Iceman has a lot of good, but not great performances. It also has a lot of bad decisions made in the post-production stage that have clearly impacted on the overall quality of the film and made this into a so-so event.


The 60th Sydney Film Festival will be running from the 5th-16th of June 2013. For more information, please see the official website

You may have also seen Winona Ryder in.....
Black Swan as Beth Mcintyre

You may have also seen Chris Evans in.....
The Avengers and  Captain America: The First Avenger as Captain America/ Steve Rogers

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