The Iceman

Posted by admin On June - 29 - 2013

Portrait of a Stone Cold Killer: The notorious Ice Man Richard Kuklinski is still an enigma today. One can only speculate on what through in his mind as he disposed the bodies in a most gruesome fashion.

An ordinary Polish man, struggling to make ends meet in NJ, ran into all the wrong people who gave him an offer he could not refuse, and uncovered his true calling in life that of a remorseless killer. If you’ve heard the expression, “Skeletons in the closet” before, one would have to wonder if the notorious Richard Kuklinski had a walk-in closet that extended 7 city blocks. By the end of the Iceman, the mystery remained was there ever a soul underneath the relentless thick layers built upon over the years?

Directed by Israeli filmmaker Ariel Vromen, The Iceman was a biopic that didn’t feel the need to over explain every thing about its central lead. Thus it preserved a sense of mystery, an essential ingredient when filming a story about a larger than life killer. Glimpses of Richard Kuklinski’s past are portrayed through 2 lines of dialogue. He had an abusive upbringing and his brother was just as troubled.

Michael Shannon who has an affinity for uncanny roles and memorable performances, was a natural fit as Richard Kuklinski. No stranger to playing a subdued character with a constricted affect and disturbed, internally preoccupied look, he gave a character with very little background, some subtle personality and even a sense of humor in a complex role that called for emotional detachment at very intense, violent moments throughout the film. It was that delicate balance that made Kuklinski not unlike any person whose profession entailed making objective decisions in ending life.
As his character’s love interest, Deborah played by Winona Ryder juxtaposed Shannon’s performance as someone who was emotionally fragile, trusting, and hopelessly naïve. While Richard buried his emotions, he was drawn to Deborah because there was a sense he could see that she accepted being emotional and wore her emotions on her sleeve. The dynamic of these two lovebirds that inevitably start a family life became the focal point for Kuklinski’s motivations and need to lead two lives.

Like all mob related films, it became clear that the ability to lead two lives never worked out like it did in comic books. In the end, untrustable people have no qualms about selling someone down a river. While Ray Liotta mailed it in as his 4th sleazy low-level mobster role, the performances of David Schwimmer and Chris Evans added some fresh, quirky characterizations, sporting some of the grungiest looks and fashionable staches.

For the great performances, The Iceman rated fine bourbon that became more and more complex as you worked your way to the bottom of the glass.



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