The Ice Storm

1997, Movie, R, 113 mins


If you remember the '70s, you probably wish you hadn't been there. Not because it was the dark decade of our nation's soul -- only terminally self-absorbed Boomers think that -- but because everyone looked awful: Professionally beautiful people barely pulled off the hideous haircuts and polyester slacks, while everyone else spent the next decade feverishly destroying the evidence that they once stepped out in Frankenstein's monster-platforms, patchwork leather car coats and macrame everything, thinking "Lookin' good." The Hoods (Joan Allen and Kevin Kline) and the Carvers (Sigourney Weaver and Henry Czerny) are New Canaan, CT, neighbors and friends, the husbands wrapped up in their careers and their wives trapped between traditional expectations and an alarming new world of self-actualization and sexual freedom. Elena Hood responds by retreating into fragile, frosty neurosis; Janey Carver reinvents herself in the image of Jane Fonda circa KLUTE, free with her favors and lethal in postcoital conversation. Their adolescent children (Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood and Adam Hann-Byrd) are uniformly sullen, rebellious and confused. The '70s were when the '60s came home to roost, and Watergate, feminism and the ecology movement lurk in the background. But the bottom line here is the belief that the sexual revolution made bad parents -- as though any generation of this century didn't think mom and dad screwed them up. Ang Lee's chilly, oddly distant look at unhappy suburbanites trying to make sense of the new morality and their miserable lives is an honorable film, beautifully acted, refreshingly un-camp in its take on wide lapels and progressive rock and occasionally coolly moving. It's just that ultimately, there's less here than meets the eye. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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