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On the Ice

By CHRIS STAMM
A tweaked expansion of writer-director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s 2008 short film of the same name, On the Ice comes front-loaded with a short’s worth of affecting scenes that offer quick glimpses into the snowblind lives of Inupiat teens, but it too quickly clicks itself into worn plot cogs. Those promising first 15 minutes ride a mellow Van Sant vibe into the endlessly fascinating (to me) world of teen dudes who communicate sexual confusion via roughhousing and jokes aimed at moms, and MacLean’s got a good sense for the ways in which the dumb shit that kids say and do hide the deep shit that kids feel and think. The piercing little moments—an awkward freestyle rap at a house party, a brief boy-girl flirtation in the white light of a sun that never goes down, a band of ruffians riding snowmobiles while hip-hop plays on the soundtrack—build to a killing that propels the rest of the film, but the heightened drama attending cover-ups and guilt-ridden flailing crashes into after-school-special territory. One gets the sense that MacLean doesn’t yet know what he’s truly capable of. I’d give him another shot.
 

Special Note

 Fox Tower.
 
  • Running Time:
  • Release Date: Monday, February 20, 2012
  • Critic's Score: 53
  • Watch the trailer
 

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