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Ang Lee - Ice Storm

A movie directed by Ang Lee

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Ice Storm - 1997

  • Sep 4, 2008
Pros: entire cast, cinematography

Cons: ..

The Bottom Line: "Oh, life's a work of fiction
Wistful wind of a train
Find security in addiction
Lost in gardens insane" ~ Beau

If you want a glimpse of what a dysfunctional family looks like, then Ice Storm is the movie for you. It begins at the end, with Paul Hood sitting on a train, frozen in time by an ice storm. We then travel back, to find out how this all occurred. Paul delivers some of the story in narrative form, reminding me vaguely of Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Although the movie centers on two families, the Hoods and the Carvers, it also investigates the entire community and sub culture that reared its ugly head in the 70's.

The Hoods consist of Ben, Elena, Paul & Wendy. Your average family living a fairly affluent lifestyle. They have a beautiful home and seem well-to-do, which allows Paul the privilege of attending a prep school away from home. He has a strange, but believable, relationship with his sister, Wendy, and they exchange many humorous as well as in-depth conversations throughout the movie. His relationship with his parents isn't nearly as close. The parental units are at that stage that some get to in a marriage; somewhat bored and dissatisfied with each other but unwilling to take any steps to change it. Ben is involved in a mildly boring affair with their neighbor, Janey Carver.

The Carvers, Janey & Jim, have two sons, Mikey and Sandy. Jim seems rather removed from the family, spending most of his time at work or traveling to and from work. Janey, in turn, is both bored and boring, looking to find pleasure anywhere she can but refusing the smallest dose of feelings in her own family unit. Sandy is the type of child that, in todays climate, would be taking an submachine gun to a tower and solving his problems with the world. Mikey, on the other hand, seems almost surreal at times. He is at that blossoming teenage time when his main thought varies between the curves of a girls body and the last hoop shot by a ball player.

It's a natural course of action that Wendy, lost and alone in this family, will gravitate to Mikey. She is immersed in all the hoopla that happened during that era: Watergate, Nixon, etc. Which brings to mind a very disturbing sexual scene between her and Mikey. It was curtailed by her father, Ben, who had come over to visit Janey for his afternoon delight and she pulled a disappearing act on him.

Adding further fuel to the fire, Paul is deeply interested in a new girl at school, Libbets Casey, who is filthy rich and totally ignored by her parents. This is how Paul ends up on that train on his way home from New York during the ice storm. His plan was to visit Libbets and, maybe, get an early Thanksgiving present from her. Little did he know that his best friend would be there, trying as always, to beat him to the punch.

Everything culminates on one fateful night, during the storm, when the neighborhood throws a ‘key party'. If you aren't familiar with the concept, every guy that walks through the door tosses his keys in a bowl. At the end of the evening each woman pulls a key from the bowl and she goes home with him for the night. Kind of a rich persons swinger club, as it were. Very popular in the 70's.

Ice Storm was packed with quite a list of stars: Kevin Kline gave probably some of his best work as Ben Hood. Strong and insecure at the same time. Two scenes stick out; walking home with Wendy, after his aborted tryst with Janey, and his breakdown in the bathroom at the party. His wife, Elena, was played by Joan Allen, with almost a thrown off attitude.

Paul & Wendy were played by Tobey Maguire and Christina Ricci. Christina was smart and edgy but all I could think of when I saw Tobey was Spiderman. He didn't give a bad performance, I just could not shake that image.

The Carvers were played by Jamey Sheridan, Sigourney Weaver, Elijah Wood and Adam Hann-Byrd. I give nothing to Sheridan, his parts were few and unremarkable. Weaver was almost plaintively needy yet sexy and sauve. The brothers, Wood [Mikey] and Hann-Byrd [Sandy], worked well together like they were almost related and somehow dropped into this strange household.

Other known appearances were by Henry Czerny, Allison Janney, and, making her film debut, Katie Holmes as Libbets Casey.

Overall it is an entirely strange movie that you will either love or hate. It has a fairly sappy and sentimental ending but it carries enough punch leading up to it to make that forgivable. It was well shot with some incredible detailing of the ice.

Directed by Ang Lee; written by Rick Moody & James Schamus. It carries an R rating for sexuality, drug use, language, and scenes involving children in suggestive manner. It was nominated for 24 awards, winning four.



Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More The Ice Storm reviews
Quick Tip by . October 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I was told by many people that I was supposed to like it and these people tend to be right ... Nope. I didn't like it. I love most of the cast, but I kept feeling like I'd seen something like it befo ... oh yea "Ordinary People." OP did it earlier and to my mind much better.
review by . November 01, 2008
Two neighboring families experience a long and ultimately life-changing Thanksgiving weekend. The story moves from one house to the other where the adults are all bored with their spouses (but not with their neighbor's spouse) and the kids are restless and curious about sex. Everyone feels misunderstood and a big ice storm is coming.     This adult drama is full of outstanding performances: Kevin Kline and a luminously lovely Joan Allen play husband and wife who are both filled …
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About this movie


Director Ang Lee's main concern is a subtle examination of family life that he began with THE WEDDING BANQUET and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN. With THE ICE STORM, Lee creates a truly American period film that is equally concerned with family relationships, set in 1970s New England. It is Thanksgiving, 1973, and the Carvers and the Hoods are two prototypical suburban families seemingly living the good life in New Canaan, Connecticut. Behind their New Age philosophies and polyester fashions, however, lies deep discontent. One husband carries on an unsatisfying affair with the other family's wife, while his teenage daughter experiments sexually with both of the neighbor's boys. When a winter storm descends upon their upper middle class neighborhood, buried resentments bubble over, leading to a tragedy neither family will ever forget. <br> <br> An intense, well-acted drama based on the novel by Rick Moody, THE ICE STORM is a masterly depiction of the frigid emotional life of suburbia. Great care was taken to accur...
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Director: Ang Lee
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 31, 1997
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: March 13, 2001
Runtime: 112 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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"Ice Storm - 1997"
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