12 Days of Christmas: The Ice Harvest

It might not officially be The 12 Days of Christmas, but FILM IN WORDS will still fill your festive viewing schedule with cheer. From beloved movies that have become an irreplaceable holiday tradition to cult and lesser known Xmas cuts that promise to subvert and haunt your holidays, there’s something for everyone all the way up to Christmas Eve.

The Ice Harvest Large

Words: Brody Rossiter
Twitter: @BrodyRossiter


Christmas time is filled with countless distractions and accompanied by a seemingly never-ending list of errands to run, festive cheer fills the air and the hearts of even the most ruthless of individuals can be melted by the soft glow of fairy lights. Therefore while he’s preoccupied with presents and enjoying a glass of Scotch beside the fire, what better time of year to extort your boss out of $2 million?

Based on the novel of the same name, and directed by Ghostbusters‘ Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day), 2005’s The Ice Harvest picks up on Christmas Eve moments after mob lawyer, Charlie (John Cusack), and pornographer, Vic (Billy Bob Thornton), have raided the coffers of the various shady business they’ve been tasked to run by crime-boss Bill. All that’s left to do is flee the inhospitable surroundings of Wichita, Kansas and elope to a tropical island with their embezzled takings, Unfortunately severe weather and inches perilous ice blanket the roads out of town, leaving the pair to wait out the night and dodge Bill’s henchmen.

Casting is ultimately the spark which keeps The Ice Harvest’s narrative alight as Cusack’s portrayal regretful father and generally nice guy who finds himself in a very shady situation is a typically solid and endearing performance from the leading man. Billy Bob Thornton’s talent for portraying unscrupulous characters is once again evident throughout his depiction of the spouse hating and trigger happy Vic. Connie Nielsen (The Following) stars as sultry femme fatale, Renata Crest, a role Ramis elects to imbue with classical noir stylings, carefully framing the beautiful actresses’ eyes and placing her square in the centre of Charlie’s longing gaze – it wouldn’t be a Cusack movie without a little romance.

Filled with black humour, heart-warming interludes and rambunctious characters, Ramis’ nourish traipse through strip clubs, luxurious bars and the memories of former lives, The Ice Harvest is a concise and involving comedy-thriller that may not possess much Christmas cheer, but makes up for it with a double measure of seedy storytelling and pulpy sensibility.

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