The Ice Rink

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy

LIVING IN OBLIVION, with a French twist. This mordantly funny satire of filmmaking is a one-joke film, but it's an awfully funny joke. A pretentious, Bresson-quoting auteur (Tom Novembre, the acting alias of the film's director, Belgian novelist Jean-Philippe Toussaint) arrives at the ice rink owned and operated by an aging skating star (Jean-Pierre Cassel)...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

LIVING IN OBLIVION, with a French twist. This mordantly funny satire of filmmaking is a one-joke film, but it's an awfully funny joke. A pretentious, Bresson-quoting auteur (Tom Novembre, the acting alias of the film's director, Belgian novelist Jean-Philippe

Toussaint) arrives at the ice rink owned and operated by an aging skating star (Jean-Pierre Cassel) hoping to finish his latest opus in time for the Venice Film Festival. The film, Dolores, concerns a glamorous figure skater, a lovestruck ice-hockey goalie, and a game that ends in sudden

death — a metaphor, the director muses, for Europe's current predicament. Dolores is sure to be a festival shoo-in, providing disaster doesn't derail the entire production first. The vain American star (Bruce Campbell) has been having it off with his leading lady (Dolores Chaplin,

real-life granddaughter of Charlie), much to the jealous director's chagrin. The actress's stunt double has a hairy chest, and the aggressive Lithuanian hockey players hired by the producer (Marie-France Pisier) don't speak a word of French and won't follow direction. And the joke? The whole thing

is shot on a solid sheet of ice, which means the cast and crew are either falling down or expending a lot of energy trying not to. Toussaint has both a great stone face and utter unflappability in the face of absurdity; comparisons to Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati are exactly right. But while he

shares Keaton's sharp visual wit and Tati's less-is-more approach to physical comedy, that impeccable sense of timing is entirely Toussaint's own. He knows just how long to hold a long shot of a smiling Pisier, desperately trying to make her way across the ice without losing her balance,

until it stops being merely amusing and becomes laugh-out-loud hilarious. (In French, with English subtitles.)

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: LIVING IN OBLIVION, with a French twist. This mordantly funny satire of filmmaking is a one-joke film, but it's an awfully funny joke. A pretentious, Bresson-quoting auteur (Tom Novembre, the acting alias of the film's director, Belgian novelist Jean-Phili… (more)

Show More »