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The Ice Storm

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Ice Storm

Starring: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen
Director: Ang Lee
Rated: R
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: September 1997
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Courtney Peldon, Henry Czerny, Adam Hann-Byrd, David Krumholtz, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Jamey Sheridan, Elijah Wood, Sigourney Weaver

Review by Walter Frith
1½ stars out of 4

The most disappointing thing about 'The Ice Storm' is that despite the strength of its characters, it is a tediously flat and unoriginal film that breaks no new ground in exploring marital infidelity, adolescents coming of age or the human condition in general.

Based on the novel by Rick Moody and scripted by James Schamus, it's set in New Caanan, Connecticut in 1973. 'The Ice Storm' begins as the story of a middle class family headed by Kevin Kline and Joan Allen who have two children. Kline is having an affair with his next door neighbour (Sigourney Weaver) while Allen confronts her own suspicions about the affair. Their daughter (Christina Ricci) is a socially aware adolescent who follows the Watergate hearings with great enthusiasm. All the adolescents in this film begin exploring sex, drugs and rebellion against their parental authority figures.

After looking hard at the film what struck me most curiously is why would you make a film audiences have seen over and over again? Director Ang Lee ('Sense and Sensibility') tries to build a film with intense dramatic overtones with little or no music score, starkly bleak camera work which in fairness is appropriate for the depressing conditions of the main characters lives but although I enjoy motion pictures which don't have the conventional happy endings (and I'm not giving away the ending by saying this) this film puts no new spin on creating any difference in the film whether its the opening ten minutes or the final ten minutes. The tone and character portrayals are unmoving for the film's entire running time.

The only thing slightly unique about the film is the concept of wife swapping. At an adult party in the film, men put their car keys in a bowl and at the end of the night, women fish out a pair of keys and go home with the owners of that set. I once saw a half hour episode of 'All in the Family' which explored this issue in a deeper and much more meaningful, entertaining manner.

'The Ice Storm' isn't a bad film, it just didn't strike a nerve with me and perhaps that fact the its dramatic shadows are so hard to spot, it might have played better with a couple of re-writes.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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