Release date: August 7, 2019 (Digital July 28, 2020)
Running time: 90 minutes
Starring: Dana Ashbrook, Claudia Ferri, Jaime King
After being physically attacked by his loving wife Carmen (Ferri), a series of unsettling incidents lead her husband Pat (Ashbrook) to question just what is happening to her. It’s only when Carmen can’t find her own house one day, that she and Pat are ready to face the unimaginable: Carmen has early onset Alzheimer’s. As her cognition deteriorates, Pat and Carmen have to try to deal with the prospect of this terrible disease and salvage what they can from their life together.
Ice Cream in the Cupboard is all about the characters, and they are really fantastic. The film focuses on the relationship of Pat and Carmen, while also splicing in scenes from their past. The two characters are well developed and perfectly acted. Pat is a supportive, devoted husband who is dealing with an impossible situation. Carmen is a fiery, loving wife who is on the decline due to her condition. Their relationship feels very real and authentic; some of the emotional scenes are painful to watch. As Carmen’s condition deteriorates, these emotional scenes take on a new gravity. And the splicing in of scenes from their past is a great way to show how they met and the beginnings of their relationship, but it is also a painful reminder of what used to be. And although Pat and Carmen are the main draws of the film, their two kids are an added touch and do a great job of highlighting that this is a family situation.
But Ice Cream in the Cupboard is ultimately a beautiful film about a painful situation. There are so many little touches in the film that make this relationship feel real. From little thoughtful gestures, to references that the pair make, to how the two interact; you will be rooting for this couple the entire time. Which ultimately makes some of the more painful mental health scenes all the more poignant and raw; when you see where this couple has come from it makes it all the more difficult to accept their current predicament. But the beauty of this film isn’t limited to the acting, story, and relationship. The music in Ice Cream in the Cupboard is also beautiful and moving, and really sets the scene when it is called upon. And as with everything else in this movie, the ending also feels realistic and decidedly not Hollywood.
Ice Cream in the Cupboard ultimately depicts a beautiful relationship, even if you have to view it through a painful lense. It is touching, beautiful, and brutal and should not be missed.