The last time Dana Ashbrook grabbed your attention it was probably as Laura Palmer’s boyfriend Bobby Briggs in Twin Peaks (who became a sheriff’s deputy in the 2017 revival). But he’s got a different mystery to figure out in the independent production Ice Cream in the Cupboard, in which he plays a husband dealing with his wife’s grim descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Based on Pat Moffett’s own true story, published under the same name a decade ago, the screen version (which Moffett, the executive producer, also co-wrote with John Rae and Jarret Rosenblatt) is a fairly no-nonsense and compelling depiction of a disease for which there is no treatment in sight. The ice cream in the title, melting in the cupboard instead of returned to the icebox, provides an early clue of the lapses that will only increase in seriousness.
It’s a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tale as domestic bliss turns to terror of the unknown. Canadian actress Claudia Ferri turns in a strong performance as a wife who is loving partner one moment and a borderline danger the next.
As a school secretary, she starts making mistakes, ordering airplane glue instead of the elementary stuff, before not showing up at all. She takes the dog on a walk and can’t remember the way home (luckily, the dog does). She accuses her husband of adultery with a woman who’s been long dead as she approaches a stage where she can’t quite remember him at all.