21 November 2007 | MichaelMargetis
Powerful, Thought-Provoking and Eye-Opening
'The Ice Storm' is an incredibly bleak and dark film set in the 70s about two connected families during the holiday break of Thanksgiving. The first family consists of Ben (Kevin Kline) and Elena (Joan Allen), and their two kids -- 16-year-old Paul (Tobey Maguire) just home from boarding school, and 14-year-old Wendy (Christina Ricci) a wannabe anti-war/anti-Nixon elitist who is coming to terms with her own sexuality. The second family consists of Janey (Sigourney Weaver) whom Ben is having an affair with, her husband Jim (Jamey Sheridan), and their two boys -- the neurotic intro-vert Mikey (Elijah Wood) and his younger shy pyro-maniac brother Sandy (AdamN Hann Byrd). The film takes place during Thanksgiving day and the day after in the lives of these people -- including Ben and Elena's marriage being put to the test at a swinger's party with Janey and Jim, Paul's love conquest in New York City with a girl from boarding school named Libbets (Katie Holmes), and Wendy's sexual misadventures with Mikey and Sandy both.
'The Ice Storm' is an incredibly powerful and relevant ensemble piece about the complexity of family and relationships both sexual and non-sexual. Ang Lee once again proves he is a director of great skill and exquisite understanding of human emotions, and James Schamus provides a harrowing and painfully realistic screenplay. Kevin Kline delivers yet another near-flawless dramatic performance, while Sigourney Weaver is great in her interesting yet limited role. The children of the ensemble cast (Maguire, Byrd, Wood, Ricci, Holmes, Krumholtz) are all excellent, especially Christina Ricci who owns her role. However, the real scene-stealer in my eyes is the marvelous Joan Allen who plays her role with such intensity and elegance that I'm shocked she didn't receive a Best Actress Oscar Nomination.
In conclusion, 'The Ice Storm' is a powerful little movie that's interesting yet not exciting. It isn't groundbreaking by any standards, but it's incredibly well-made. 'The Ice Storm' was totally ignored at the '98 Oscar Ceremony, but that comes to no enormous surprise. It was competing in the same year 'L.A. Confidential', 'Boogie Nights', 'Amistad', 'The Sweet Hereafter', 'As Good as It Gets' and the dreadfully overrated 'Titanic' were. A small little character study like 'The Ice Storm' didn't stand a chance. If you can appreciate a movie like this, I highly recommend this oldie I just got around to seeing. Grade: A-