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USA 1997
Directed by
Ang Lee
112 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars

The Ice Storm

Ang Lee brings a sophisticated sensibility to what might have otherwise been a conventional Hollywood melodrama about the woes of suburban America. The pain here is quietly understated as two families, parents and children alike, test the confining boundaries of middle-class mores during the permissive early 1970s in New Canaan, Connecticut.

The story takes place during Thanksgiving week, 1973, against the background of Watergate. The Hood and the Carver families are neighbours. Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire) has returned home from his first year at college for Thanksgiving with a serious crush on a fellow-student (Katie Holmes in her screen debut. His sister, Wendy (Christina Ricci) is a bolshie 14-year old, sexually experimenting with the two Carver boys (Elijah Wood and Adam Hann-Byrd). Meanwhile, his father Ben (Kevin Kline) is having an affair with Mrs Carver (Sigourney Weaver) and his mother, Elena (Joan Allen) is disappearing into a well of loneliness.

Based on a novel by Rick Moody and scripted by James Schamus who had also been a writer on Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) and The Wedding Banquet (1993), The Ice Storm is a thoroughly credible portrait of mundane middle class malaise, slightly unbalanced by Sigourney Weaver’s under-written character which is mirrored by her improbably vampish appearance. It shines in every department from the performances to the art and costume design and Mychael Danna's score, creating a moving account of life’s everyday heartaches and a telling portrait of a time and place.




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