The Ice Storm (1997)


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


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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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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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Critic Reviews for The Ice Storm

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (15)

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…
Top Critic

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

Jul 28, 2008
Top Critic

A thoroughly enjoyable blend of comedy and melodrama...

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
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

It's unfortunate that as capable a team as director Lee and screenwriter-producer Schamus should have become fascinated with such unpromising material.

Feb 14, 2001 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Ice Storm


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 Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer


Ang Lee's subtle and sedate look at two families in 1973 Connecticut suburbia has a lot of lives of quiet desperation, longing, yearning ... for what? Nobody knows. The television in the background suggests that its out there. What? Where? Nobody knows.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Though I really dig the whole postapocalyptic end-of-the-world, freak of nature weather stuff, it was just too sapped of genuine emotion for me to care about this much.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

Powerful and, at times, daunting. With the possible exception of Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver), all of the characters have depth and purpose. I still think Rick Moody's novel lends itself better to the stage but Ang Lee and his exquisite cast manage to get the most out of the material.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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