The Ice Storm

Dir: Ang Lee, 1997. Starring: K. Kline, J. Allen, S. Weaver, T. Maguire, C. Ricci, E. Wood, K. Holmes. Drama.
The Ice Storm

Set over 1973’s Thanksgiving weekend, The Ice Storm is the tale of a group of suburban families in Connecticut dealing with ever shifting social mores and sexual desires.

Based on the acclaimed novel by Rick Moody, James Shamus’ screenplay adaptation is a dark but truthful examination of the American family. It is well structured with highly dimensional characters, never bowing down to the oversimplification of human behavior. Rather, he gives them each their own voice and distinctive point of view.

Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) delivers one of his finest works of cinema in this tale of human isolation, confusion, and desperation. He directs the film with such elegance and raw tender honesty, never shying away from the painful and awkward moments that make up life. He does a masterful job of observing human nature at its most vulnerable.

Mychael Danna’s score is an understated but beautifully simple work, adding a timeless and haunting mood to the film. Mark Friedberg’s production design and Carol Oditz’s costumes give the film a very grounded sense of the past.

Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda) plays “Ben Hood”— a man who seems like an every day sort of father and husband, but who spend his time complaining to his mistress (Weaver) about all the ways he feels his life went off track. A man who just can’t wrap his head around what his world is becoming. As always, Kline delivers a solid turn.

Joan Allen (The Contender) plays Ben’s repressed housewife, striving for new inspiration in her life, with such subtle effectiveness. She is an introverted, mousy woman trapped in a box of her own device—a woman almost afraid to live life to the fullest, but knowing she must do something.

Sigourney Weaver (Galaxy Quest) is ideally cast as a woman with an icy disposition who seems to regret becoming a housewife and mother. Her cold attitude shields a sincere disappointment and regret, which she takes out on everyone around her. Weaver is so good at playing characters with nasty dispositions.

Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) is the story’s narrator, acting as the audience's eyes into the world of 1970s suburbia. Maguire is solid as “Paul Hood “—a sixteen year old prep school boy in love who just can’t seem to be as cool as he wishes.

Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan) plays “Wendy Hood “—a young girl who, because of the Watergate scandal in Nixon’s White House, has already lost faith in politics before being old enough to vote. Although still only a teenager, she plays the affection of two brothers against each other while trying to establish who she is as a woman.

Jamey Sheridan (Syrian) gives a very understated performance as “Jim Carver”—a salesmen who invented packing “popcorn.” He is a man who is loathed by his wife (Weaver) and has no understanding of how to relate to his two sons. Sheridan plays him with great awkwardness that emotionally pays off in the finale.

If you’re in the mood for a fantastic period family drama, they don’t get better than Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Jun 29, 2009 1:19pm
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