Saturday, February 04, 2006


The Ice Storm Movie Kevin Kline Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Kevin Kline
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



THE ICE STORM is a startling look at 1973 America and how lost so many people (parents, children, neighbors, etc.) became during this transitional time. The free-love of the 60s spill over into the 30 and 40-somethings of a sleepy Connecticut community and runs smack into the dysfunctional family of Ben and Elena Hood (Kevin Kline, A FISH CALLED WANDA, and Joan Allen, THE UPSIDE OF ANGER).

Ben is having an affair with his neighbors wife, Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver, ALIENS), and the boredom they both feel during their "love making" is palpable. They want something different to happen, but what that "something" is remains unobtainable. And the two’s lackadaisical attitudes toward sex, family, and the times seep into their everyday lives; even into their spouses’ and children.

Ben’s wife Elena gets caught shoplifting from the local pharmacy. Janey’s husband Jim goes away on long business trips and returns with funks of depression because of what he witnesses going on in his family.

The children of Ben and Janey are also settling into this bizarre behavior. Some of them explore sexuality in often strange ways, or run out into storms and play on ice-covered roads. Others blow things up with M80 firecrackers, or smoke pot and drink to numb themselves out.

But all of these people’s lives will change in an unalterable way during one evening; an ice storm has hit and the cold outside bashes against the cold each character feels inside. Some will live, some will die, and others will never be the same.

The attention to 1970s detail in director
Ang Lee’s movie is astounding. The sweater-vest outfits, paneled station wagons, and boxy homes were excellently filmed.

You can also feel the dark undercurrent running through the characters’ lives: the grayish landscape cinematography against the quiet homes that harbor secrets.

The cast was absolutely perfect, too. Kevin Kline (one of my favorite actors), Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen,
Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes, Christina Ricci, and Jamey Sheridan all pull in stunning performances.

Having gushed over how well done the movie was, I do have to comment on its pacing. If you thought SIDEWAYS was snail-like, this movie may make you feel as though grass could grow faster.

Director Ang Lee has had some serious success in Hollywood as of late (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, 2005), but this earlier work is an excellent way to see how he’s grown in the intervening years.

No movie trailer available. Sooorrry!


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