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The Ice Storm (1997)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
Genres:
Drama, Ensemble Film, Family Drama, Marriage Drama, Period Film
Director:
Ang Lee Ang Lee
Starring:
Kevin Kline Kevin Kline
Joan Allen Joan Allen
Sigourney Weaver Sigourney Weaver
Henry Czerny Henry Czerny
Tobey Maguire Tobey Maguire

7.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: January 20, 2011
Perhaps I should preface this review by stating that I've never been a fan of the drama genre. It always seems to me that the plot has been given the backseat to character interaction, and very rarely are the characters and their actors powerful enough to cover the slack; this is definitely true of The Ice Storm.

In place of an actual story, we're given a look at two neighboring families in a small Connecticut town, the Hoods and the Carvers. Ben (Kevin Kline) and Elena Hood (Joan Allen) have two kids, shy Paul (Toby MacGuire), who's away at a private high school, and hyper-political, oversexed daughter Wendy (Christina Ricci). Meanwhile, over at the Carver residence, Janey's (Sigourney Weaver) husband Jim (Jamey Sheridan) is hardly ever home, and she prefers it that way as it makes her affair with Ben that much easier. Meanwhile, her two kids, destructive Sandy (Adam Hann-Byrd) and introspective Mike (Elijah Wood), are friends with Wendy, complete with all the tension that three puberties can provide. In lieu of a plotline to follow, we spend close to two hours watching the highly dysfunctional relationships between these people.

And dysfunctional truly is the name of the game here. Both sets of spouses are bored as hell with each other. The affairs are obviously merely of sexual convenience with no emotional connection. The parents are mostly uninterested in their kids and incompetent at best at raising them; likewise, the kids have no real affection for their parents. At one point one of the fathers goes on a business trips and his kids had no idea he was even gone. Even the kids themselves have no deeper relationships, as Sandy and Mike really just serve as Wendy's tools in exploring her new-found sexuality. With every relationship in the movie being an empty farce, there's no real connection for the viewer to latch onto. All of this emptiness is really put into perspective with the only relationship that had any impact at all, that between siblings Wendy and Paul. While the two put on an air of distance by referring to each other only as "Charles" and speaking in an exaggerated formal manner, the affection within the non-affection is practically palpable, and it's obvious that the act is more of a game than a serious attempt to keep each other at arm's length. The pair only had two short scenes together, probably combining for about three minutes; while this speaks volumes as to what Ricci and McGuire were able to accomplish in such a small amount of time, it also says a lot about the film as a whole, and makes them feel that much more bleak.

And even more troublesome than all of these empty characters is the complete lack of any ending whatsoever. The movie has shown all of these relationships that are obviously doomed to fail slowly coming to a head, and once they do, the film simply ends. There's no resolution, happy or not, and nothing to give that one hundred and twenty minutes any lasting impact.

The movie has received some pretty heavy praise since it's release, so being I've already admitted the genre is not my cup of tea, it is perhaps best to take this review with a grain of salt. With that said, I just can not see how anyone can walk away from this happy with their movie experience. Different strokes and all that, but even so, 4/10 from myself.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 02/01/2011, 12:49 AM
A masterpiece. 10/10. Heartbreaking and beautiful.
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