Life is a messy affair. No matter how hard we try and stay out of harm’s way, trouble has a way of finding us. A parent’s number one job is to protect their child. Ice Blue, from director Sandi Somers, explores the tension between a protective father and his sheltered teenage daughter. And this cold-blooded Canadian-made thriller delivers a series of twists and turns all along the way.
John (Billy MacLellan) is a single father who goes to extreme lengths to safeguard his daughter Arielle (Sophia Lauchlin Hirt). They live outside of town on an isolated farm where Arielle receives homeschooling. She is about to turn 16, and her birthday wish is to spend time with Maria (Michelle Morgan), the mother who abandoned her. We don’t know what drove Maria away, but it might be related to the traumatic visions that haunt Arielle. John isn’t sharing any details, either. Probably because he’s too busy sleeping around town.
But everything changes when a broody young boy named Christian (Charlie Kerr) shows up in Arielle’s life. He’s a handsome bad boy who is wrong for her in every way, but there is a magnetism that draws her to the young stud. And besides, getting homeschooled on a farm puts a major kibosh on her dating options.
Arielle’s relationship with Christian opens up her world and exposes the small-town drama that ruined her family. At the same time, Maria reappears in Arielle’s life, and their time together casts her relationship with her father in a new light.
Navigating life’s highs and lows is never easy, but adolescence is one of life’s tougher stretches. 16 is a strange age where you are caught in a nether-region between childhood and adulthood. We want to be mature and independent, and yet, we struggle to let go of our childhood comforts. Ice Blue does an excellent job representing this period in adolescence. Arielle is barely 16 when her entire world gets upended. Whether she likes it or not, she is forced to step into the adult world and make life-altering decisions.
Arielle is haunted by some undefined trauma, and her isolation on the farm threatens to stagnate her social development. She loves her father dearly, and when the film begins, they have a tender relationship but make no mistake about it, she grew up in a toxic environment. The script, written by Jason Long, literalizes this theme when the farm’s pond starts poisoning the local animals. Living her best life means finding it within herself to shed her childhood bonds and move on.
Somers and cinematographer Nick Thomas use cinematic language to convey Arielle’s unfortunate situation. From the opening moments, as the camera soars high above Arielle’s hometown, the world looks dull and gloomy. Muddy roads and leafless trees engulf the family farm. And the film’s washed-out colour palette is overloaded with ugly browns and frigid blues. Alec Harrison’s score creates the perfect soundtrack to Arielle’s loneliness; every sombre note rings out with a sense of longing.
This chilly Canadian thriller really goes for it. Without getting spoiler-y, Ice Blue’s central mystery involves sex, murder, and revenge. This film far from perfect; there are some wooden performances, cringe-worthy bits of dialogue, and the plot doesn’t all add up. But this eerie coming-of-age tale’s specificity has broad appeal. And anyone who struggled to exit a toxic situation will see pieces of themselves in Arielle’s story.