Movie Review: BREAKING THE ICE: Romantic sports dramas are best off the ice [Tribeca 2022]

Break the Ice Review

Breaking the Ice (2022) Film Exam from 21st Annual Tribeca Film Festivala film written and directed by Clara Stern and featuring Alina Schaller, Judith Altenberger, Wolfgang Bock, Pia Herzegger and Toby Samuel Resch.

Conventional sports films have become commonplace and are commonplace in American cinema. No matter how much King Richard was (and it was very good) he felt a little ordinary in some of his rousing sports victories. In the new Austrian film, Break the ice, the mechanics of the sports scenes (dealing with ice hockey) sometimes seem quite mundane, but the main performance of the film by Alina Schaller is simply revolutionary. This character played by Schaller is a character that we don’t see enough of in movies today. Schaller plays Mira, one of the best players on an Austrian all-women’s hockey team. Written and directed by Clara Stern, Break the ice features phenomenal scenes of angst and longing and, as Schaller describes it, Mira’s confusion and passion about her life choices make the film a definite hit. These emotional sequences in the image raise Break the ice all the way to the top of the list of recent sports dramas.

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Working in her family’s vineyard exhausts Mira, who is sometimes late for her hockey games. Mira plays on the team known as the Dragons. Her grandmother died while she was on her way to receive medical treatment. She was carried by Mira’s brother, Paul (Tobias Samuel Resch) at the time. Pia Herzegger co-stars in the film as Mira’s mother and she is hard for Mira to live with. Mira escapes her daily endeavors by playing hockey and ends up loving a woman on the team named Theresa (Judith Altenberger). Meanwhile, Mira’s grandfather (Wolfgang Bock) loses his memory. Mira’s mom is doing her best to hold on at home and despite Paul leaving the family, seems to be holding on. If just by a thread.

While the hockey scenes are all done well, the film hinges on her love story between Mira and Theresa which could have been its own movie if there was a little less time on the ice. Schaller and Altenberger set the screen on fire with their steamy romance. There’s a lot of great chemistry between these two actresses that brings the relationship to life, whether they’re fighting, making up, or having sex. Schaller’s raw vulnerability is to be commended, while Altenberger further proves she’s capable of matching Schaller’s level of performance in the film’s final scenes.

There’s a great scene on a bus where the players from the women’s hockey team are playing music and syncing to their favorite songs. This is an example of the quality of the movie when off the ice. Even when Mira starts to look more masculine with a fake beard in one scene, Schaller is mesmerizing to watch. She’s gorgeous but she has a strong personality that makes her one of the most memorable female lead characters I’ve seen in a while. She dresses in her brother Paul’s clothes at one point much to her mother’s disgust in a heartbreaking scene.

There is a certain predictability in certain hockey scenes. While the ending is good and good, it’s conventional and not groundbreaking cinema. However, the family drama that the film presents is much more emotionally involving. Schaller and Herzegger share great dramatic moments together that heighten the intensity of the image.

Break the ice also benefits greatly from a tremendous use of songs. They move the scenes forward smoothly with little time for boredom to set in. In fact, it’s one of the most entertaining films of the year for its pace and excellent use of family drama that captivates audiences throughout. All the scenes in the film ring true with their occasional awkwardness and realism.

Schaller may not be recognized as highly as she deserves due to the conventional sports scene nature of the image, but it would be a mistake not to give her the recognition she deserves for her totally fascinating about a young woman who experiences angst, love and sexuality in the context of playing hockey and dealing with a tense situation at home. Schaller is definitely an actress to watch.

Break the ice is a totally absorbing film that works best when its scenes are off the ice, but hockey fans may appreciate the sports-themed scenes a little more than I do. Either way, it’s definitely a movie you’ll want to see even if it’s just to find out about the presence of a talented new actress. Schaller turns this image, executed with terrific precision by Stern, into a stand-up cheer film where you can encourage romance more than the actual sports sequences.

Evaluation: 7.5/ten

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