Sunday 30 May 2010

The Ice Storm [1997]

A searing deconstruction of the American suburbia, Ang Lee’s much acclaimed The Ice Storm has as its company such disconsolate expositions on dysfunction and malaise as the likes of American Beauty and Little Children. Though not as relentlessly dark as the latter two, the film is no less distressing or, well, wintry. Set during one particularly cold Thanksgiving weekend in the 70’s in the wealthy suburbs of New York City, the film has at its centre an affluent family that is genial and civil on the outside, but crumbling from inside. The father (Kevin Kline) is having an affair with his attractive but frosty neighbour (Sigourney Weaver), the frigid mother (Joan Allen) is suffering from existential crises of her own, their daughter (Christiana Ricci) has become overtly promiscuous with their neighbour’s son (Elijah Wood) and his brother and emotionally detached, while their son (Tobey Maguire), one of the few characters deserving the audience’s sympathy and the movie’s mouthpiece, has fallen for a girl (Katie Holmes) who doesn’t seem to reciprocate his feelings. The film is replete with ironies, not least of all being, as this web of infidelity, rebelliousness and desperation is unfolding, threatening to rip the family apart, the Watergate Scandal is quietly playing in the background. The film, that forms a fine zeitgeist of the times portrayed, is exceptionally well performed by its ensemble cast, with the young brigade of Ricci, Maguire and Wood being especially brilliant.

Director: Ang Lee
Genre: Drama/Family Drama/Ensemble Film
Language: English
Country: US


blake said...

I love this movie so much. It really makes me afraid of growing up.

It's also a startling comment by Ang Lee who grew up outside of the states. What are they teaching about us in Taiwan?!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Blake for stopping by. Yeah, I'd read in your post on Suburban Movies and so knew about your love for the film.

Well, Upper Middle Class American families, outside US, have become associated with dysfunction, promiscuousness, broken marriages & the likes. That's one stereotype, I'm afraid, is quite prevalent :)

Alex DeLarge said...

Great write-up once again! This is one of those films that has been on my "must see" list for a few years but never gets to the top. I just watched Criterion's blu-ray of RIDE WITH THE DEVIL and have yet to see an Ang Lee film I didn't like (though I've never see HULK).

Shubhajit said...

Thanks buddy. Well, if my experience of watching Ice Storm is anything to go, do help it skip a few movies on its way up in you "must see" list. Haven't seen his Ride with the Devil yet - how's it?