The Iceman

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Michael Shannon may be the star of The Iceman, Ariel Vroman’s disturbingly compelling crime drama based on the story of real-life New Jersey contract killer Richard Kuklinski. But although he’s in nearly every scene, both Shannon and his Kuklinski are never really there. The vacancy behind Kuklinski’s icy eyes is a remarkable, can’t-look-away achievement that elevates what could have been another pedestrian gangster personification into perhaps Shannon’s most memorable role. The Iceman also marks the return of Winona Ryder as Kuklinski’s clueless wife, Deborah. From the couple’s awkward first date until one of the film’s final scenes, in which Deborah sits in a courtroom with their daughters, both aghast at what she’s learning about the man she’s revered and struggling with her still-present love, Ryder efficiently phases through adorable, worshipful, semi-confrontational, but mostly in-denial mother hen, somehow glowing the entire time. You forget all the "Free Winona" craziness. And you feel sorry for Kuklinski when he’s finally arrested, a seemingly impossible feat of successfully portraying a person who was both man and monster. (TO)