The Ice Storm

From Rick Moody's powerful, era-capturing novel comes this powerful, era-capturing film. Set in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1973, when the sexual revolution began to trickle down to the suburbs, The Ice Storm stars Kevin Kline and Joan Allen as the heads of a family on the verge of disintegrating. Both are reaching out for something else, Kline through his affair with chilly housewife neighbor Sigourney Weaver and Allen through a variety of unsatisfactory means. Meanwhile, their children and Weaver's have developed problems and intrigues all their own. Late 1973 marked the high-water marks of both sexually ambiguous rock 'n' roll and Watergate, a period when everything seemed on the verge of being overturned, or at least going through a mysterious transition. Director Ang Lee (Sense And Sensibility) captures that look and spirit well, and the careful attention to detail, place and character found in his other films works here as well. As does his non-judgmental attitude: What could have easily have been a harsh satire of a tacky period (plastic furniture? polyester? wife swapping?) is instead sympathetic, letting its characters' missteps speak for themselves. The New Canaanites, both young and old, know that there's something more to life, but can't seem to get at it without destroying themselves or those around them. The fine cast helps, too. The ensemble works so well together that it's not particularly productive to single out performances, but it should be said that the younger actors—Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood the most familiar among them—measure up to their older counterparts. A harsh (though slightly toned down from Moody's book), deeply moving, emotionally rich and intelligent film about the difficulty of rebelling against social restrictions—and the inescapable consequences of such attempts when they do succeed—The Ice Storm should not be missed.

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