The Ice Storm

Critics Consensus

Director Ang Lee revisits the ennui-laden decadence of 1970s suburban America with deft humor and gripping pathos.

84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 64

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 34,434
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Movie Info

Set on Thanksgiving weekend of 1973, The Ice Storm looks into the lives of a wealthy Connecticut family who are calm and civil on the outside, but whose lives are quietly falling into chaos. Sixteen-year-old Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire) is home for the holidays from prep school; he'd just as soon have stayed at school, given the usual level of tension around the house and his desire to win the affections of Libbets Casey (Katie Holmes), a girl living in Manhattan. His 14-year-old sister, Wendy (Christina Ricci), is already a hardened cynic obsessed with the ongoing Watergate investigation, and she has begun acting out sexually with a neighbor boy, Mikey (Elijah Wood). Apparently, this runs in the family: Wendy's father, Ben (Kevin Kline), is having an affair with Mikey's mother, Janey (Sigourney Weaver), though Ben sees a future in the relationship and Janey does not. Elena (Joan Allen), Ben's wife, knows something is wrong with her marriage and her life, but she has no idea what she should do about it. As the teenagers surreptitiously experiment with drugs and alcohol, and the adults drift into mate-swapping, a dangerous blanket of freezing rain begins to cover New Canaan. The Ice Storm was adapted from the acclaimed novel by Rick Moody. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Kevin Kline
as Ben Hood
Sigourney Weaver
as Jane Carver
Joan Allen
as Elena Hood
Jamey Sheridan
as Jim Carver
Christina Ricci
as Wendy Hood
Elijah Wood
as Mikey Carver
Adam Hann-Byrd
as Sandy Carver
Tobey Maguire
as Paul Hood
Katie Holmes
as Libbets Casey
Henry Czerny
as George Clair
David Krumholtz
as Francis Davenport
Michael Cumpsty
as Philip Edwards
Glenn Fitzgerald
as Neil Conrad
Allison Janney
as Dot Halford
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News & Interviews for The Ice Storm

Critic Reviews for The Ice Storm

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (16)

  • Nothing less than one of the year's best pictures, a portrait of wealthy Connecticut suburbanites in the 1970s whose lives have no emotional or spiritual rudder.

    Mar 28, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • The Ice Storm captures this place, this season, this garish and confused moment in history, with surgical precision...It's Lee's sympathetic detachment that gives the movie its paradoxical power.

    Feb 26, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • A well-observed and deftly performed examination of upper-middle-class emotional deep freeze...

    Jul 28, 2008

    Todd McCarthy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • A thoroughly enjoyable blend of comedy and melodrama...

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A remarkable film that takes us straight into John Updike territory, duplicating on screen exactly what the writer achieves on the page.

    Apr 12, 2002 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • The best film about family so far this year. Just don't think Disney.

    May 11, 2001

Audience Reviews for The Ice Storm

  • Feb 15, 2014
    It was hard to feel anything about any of the characters in this story. They were all encased in, well, in ice and maybe that's the point. But I wanted to FEEL a little of that quiet desperation. Then again, maybe the point was NOT to feel. Anyway, I'm glad we're not living in 1973 anyway. Key parties? Really? Looks like a total drag.This is what happens when people who have too much of a.) disposable income and b) time on their hands. Part of DVD binge my husband and I did in the famous unrelenting winter of 2014.
    Bathsheba M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 01, 2013
    A drama about two dysfunctional families in the Thanksgiving of 1973. Their normal appearance on the outside is filled with sex and drugs on the inside. It's entertaining but also disturbing to watch. I really enjoy the ensemble and the incorporation of young actors.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2010
    One of Ang Lee's best works. The real ice storm is between the characters and even in the 1970's people were still doing things that were considered taboo. Plus Americans at the time were dealting with the infamous Watergate scandal, booze, swapping partners and drugs. This is a great film. My fav is seeing Joan Allen. She is one hell of an actress and continues to take on intelligent roles. I love the scene where she winds up at a swinger house party and ends up having an affair with a guy (who is also married) in the front seat of a car. I think Allen says "Do these seats go back?" Great line. Christina Ricci character wants to explore her sexuality, Sigorney Weaver is great and reminds me of those great nympho housewives unsatisfied yet always looking for an edge, Kevin Kline is great too as the father who wants to instill discipline to his family and yet his character is also flawed since he is having an affair. I noticed most Americans were dealing with Watergate since it was on TV everyday. My fav is seeing Joan Allen. She is one hell of an actress and continues to take on intelligent roles. I love the scene where she winds up at a swinger house party and ends up having an affair with a guy (who is also married) in the front seat of a car. I think Allen says "Do these seats go back?" Great line. Christina Ricci character wants to explore her sexuality, Sigorney Weaver is great and reminds me of those great nympho housewives unsatisfied yet always looking for an edge, and finally I noticed most Americans were dealing with Watergate since it was on TV everyday. The ending is painful to watch and well as any sad tragedy, life will always continue to go on. Plot The Ice Storm looks into the lives of a wealthy Connecticut family who are calm and civil on the outside, but whose lives are quietly falling into chaos. Sixteen-year-old Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire) is home for the holidays from prep school; he'd just as soon have stayed at school, given the usual level of tension around the house and his desire to win the affections of Casey (Katie Holmes), a girl living in Manhattan. His 14-year-old sister, Wendy (Christina Ricci), is already a hardened cynic obsessed with the ongoing Watergate investigation, and she has begun acting out sexually with a neighbor boy, Mikey (Elijah Wood). Apparently, this runs in the family: Wendy's father, Ben (Kevin Kline), is having an affair with Mikey's mother, Janey (Sigourney Weaver), though Ben sees a future in the relationship and Janey does not. Elena (Joan Allen), Ben's wife, knows something is wrong with her marriage and her life, but she has no idea what she should do about it.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Oct 20, 2010
    A near-masterpiece of a film concerning a few families in middle-class 1973 Connecticut whose lives intersect during Thanksgiving Weekend when an ice storm rocks the quiet town they reside in, as well as the extremely suppressed emotions coursing through each one of them - which in turn unleashes a storm of sexuality and self-pity that is not for the faint of heart. Ang Lee competently captures the look and feel of the 1970's, and details each one of his characters with excellence and subtle brilliance. It's not a fun movie by any stretch of the imagination, and it occasionally loses its hypnotizing grip on its audience, but for this most part this is superb stuff. The conclusion of the film is just absolutely perfect, despite it being incredibly tragic and near tear-jerking. The final ten minutes of this film are simply a master-class in subtle facial expressions and characters trying to keep the lid on their understandably explosive emotions. Deconstructing the seemingly "ideal" middle-class is not as original a theme anymore thanks to other great movies like "Happiness" and "American Beauty" (and the TV show "Mad Men"), but 'Storm' remains the undeniable most significant film concerning the subject.
    Dan S Super Reviewer

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