Directed By: Thom Best
In Theaters: Jan 1, 2004 Wide
On DVD: Dec 20, 2005
Runtime: 1 hr. 48 min.
Old friendship falls prey to new tensions as a group of childhood friends come together for a weekend hunt, but find themselves torn apart by rising tensions and unexpected guests, in this drama from cinematographer-turned-director Thom Best. It's been years since Vaughn and his old buddies have come together for a little male bonding, and when the opportunity for a laid back winter weekend at the family cabin arises, the childhood chums set about packing their bags. The carefree old days have given way to the stress and competition of adulthood, and when new rivalries form and long-buried secrets give way to sexual tensions, the kettle begins to boil and tensions begin to flare. When a knock on the cabin door signals the arrival of some surprising guests, the relaxing weekend retreat becomes a dire struggle to salvage what little is left of the group's tenuous friendship.
~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Tình bạn cũ trở thành miếng mồi cho những căng thẳng mới khi một nhóm bạn tuổi thơ tập hợp lại để đi săn cuối tuần, nhưng rồi lại bị chia rẽ bởi những căng thẳng mới nảy sinh và những vị khách bất ngờ, trong bộ phim này được đạo diễn bởi Thom Best, vốn xuất thân là một nhà quay phim. Đã nhiều năm qua, Vaughn và các bạn cũ của anh không có dịp để tập hợp lại với nhau, và khi cơ hội cho một cuối tuần mùa đông thư giãn tại căn nhà gỗ của gia đình xuất hiện, các gã bạn tuổi thơ này sắp xếp hành lý lên đường. Những tháng ngày cũ vô tư nhường chỗ cho sự căng thẳng và những cuộc tranh đua người lớn, và khi những đối thủ mới hình thành và những bí mật được chôn vùi từ lâu nhường chỗ cho những căng thẳng liên quan đến tình dục, két nước bắt đầu sôi lên và những căng thẳng bắt đầu cháy bùng lên. Khi tiếng gõ lên trên cánh cửa căn nhà gỗ báo hiệu cho sự xuất hiện của những vị khách bất ngờ, kỳ nghỉ thư giãn cuối tuần trở thành cuộc chiến đấu khốc liệt để cứu vãn chút ít còn sót lại từ tình bạn mong manh của nhóm.
Ice Men (2004)
Main cast: Martin Cummins (Vaughn), David Hewlett (Bryan), Greg Spottiswood (Jon), James Thomas (Steve), Brandy Ledford (Renee), and Ian Tracey (Trevor)
Director: Thom Best
One of the oddest things about Ice Men is how this movie is about a predominantly heterosexual cast of characters, but it is more well-received among the LGBT film circuit than anywhere else. It can't be just because Thom Best was a former director and cinematographer on the US version of the TV series Queer As Folk, right? Or because the scriptwriter Michael MacLennan was also the writer for that same TV show?
Having watched this movie, I can only wonder whether this is because the openly gay character is the only one remotely likable in this movie. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Vaughn, an uptight fellow who had recently lost his father and whose girlfriend Renee had recently dumped him, decides to decompress by inviting his three childhood friends to his father's cottage in the middle of nowhere for some ice-fishing, hunting, and male bonding. He could have picked better friends: Jon, who is the openly gay guy, attends only because he is hoping to get a big photography contract from Vaughn in order to save his failing career; Steve, a musclehead jock who loves himself utterly; and Bryan, the birthday boy who loves his alcohol too much for his own good. Crashing the party is Vaughn's brother, Trevor. Trevor and Vaughn detest each other - Trevor shows up only because he is hoping to collect his share of his inheritance from his father in order to pay off a crippling gambling debt. Imagine five men holed up in an admittedly large and spacious cabin in the middle of nowhere but snow and ice. Men with guns and sharp knives close at hand.
Ice Men is a very talk-heavy drama, and for a long time, these men do nothing but talk. Because these men are not exactly the most likable bunch, you will have to have some patience with very screwed-up men to get to the end. Vaughn is cruel and even abusive toward everyone - this man is going to become just like his abusive late father if he didn't watch himself. Steve, a closeted jock who is desperate to marry his girlfriend just to deny that aspect of him, and Jon end up in what seems like a weekend fling, and you know there can't be anything good to come out of this. Bryan is sleeping with Renee despite being already married. And then there is all that baggage between Vaughn and Trevor. While Trevor is a screw-up, he takes so much abuse from Vaughn and his friends that I can't help but to pity him.
By the end of the movie, only Jon escapes with his dignity intact as he refuses to play the martyr to Steve's determination to stay in the closet. Greg Spottiswood has to be commended here for playing Jon as an ordinary guy without any exaggerated tics or affectations that plagued gay characters in films. It is actually easy to forget that he's gay until he timidly seduces Steve in a scene that is unexpectedly erotic for a mainstream-style drama. Ian Tracey also portrays Tracey most excellently - Tracey is neither a hero or a villain, just a screw-up who nonetheless sometimes demonstrates that he is capable of compassion far more than his supposedly more successful brother.
The other characters unfortunately don't fare so well. Martin Cummins tries, but he is prone to melodrama when it comes to his portrayal of Vaughn, and as a result, Vaughn often comes off more like an angry clown than a compelling character. It's the same with Bryan - David Hewlett comes off as too melodramatic in his role. Perhaps it is the script for calls for such hammy acting, but these two male characters could have been developed more interestingly. Poor Steve - he is written as nothing more than a closeted and vain meathead whose insecurities lead him to become quite a homophobe. In other words, Steve is a stereotype.
Still, the men in the main roles are all very easy on the eyes, and James Thomas even obliges with a scene of rear end nudity. His scene with Greg Spottiswood in that scene that leads to their unwise coupling would be right at home in a movie of a more erotic nature despite how tame this scene actually is, heh. Therefore, as dreary and slow as this movie can be, I can't deny that the scenery is pretty, heh.
Ice Men at the end of the day is an often tedious movie that nonetheless has its moments. The ambiguous ending with its lack of resolution is a poor payoff for sitting through the whole movie. Therefore, I'd suggest that this film be kept for long afternoons when one has time to kill. Look up Jon and Steve's seduction scene on YouTube instead.