Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Ice Storm

I watched this as we prepare for our first snowfall of the season--nothing too bad, mind you, but it provides an opening for this observational movie review.

This movie was directed by Ang Lee, based upon the book by Rick Moody. Previously, I had only seen his craptacular The Hulk. This movie is so much better for many reasons, not the least of which is the cast: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, a pre-brainwashed Katie Holmes, and my man Tobey Maguire. (Tobey even has the opening lines of the film, discussing comic books no less! Be still my heart.)

Set in Connecticut, 1973. The movie focuses on two well-to-do suburbanite couples and their attendant children. Everyone has too much time on their hands and is too confused with the world. They are searching anywhere for personal fulfillment--alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, self-help books, casual sex, whatever. Plus, as Jimmy Carter said, they are lusting in their hearts . . . and often acting on that lust . . . to achieve what, I don't think they truly know.

The kids in this movie aren't adults, but they sort of are, because the actual adults are too spaced out or confused to pay them much attention. So the kids fend for themselves and make all sorts of mistakes.

One of the two families lives in a contemporary home that reminded me of Miles van de Rohe's Farnsworth House. But I can't seem to identify the actual home used in the film. Does anyone know?

This movie reminds me strongly of American Beauty, because of the ennui evident in the characters and in the sparseness of the soundtrack, which has a very Thomas Newman quality.

I liked the movie, even if I don't really know where it might be going in the fictional future that stands ahead of the Hood family when this movie is over. I suspect you can get a better sense of that from the novel, which probably did a more explicit job of describing the internal motivations of the people. Ang Lee is more interested in showing you their confusion and their inability to choose than he is to have you hear that confusion.

Still, recommended.

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