The Ice Storm - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Ice Storm Reviews

Page 1 of 68
June 4, 2016
Thanksgiving, 1973. We meet two dysfunctional families living in New Canaan, Connecticut. The Hoods are Ben and Elena and their children Paul (16) and Wendy (14). The Carvers are Jim and Janey and their teenage sons Mikey and Sandy. Ben is having an affair with Janey. Paul spends most of his time at boarding school but is coming home for Thanksgiving. Wendy and Mikey are in a relationship, of sorts. Sandy is infatuated with Wendy. One night all their relationship and family issues reach a tipping point.

Started very well. First half was great - quirkily funny with some great oddball family drama. Characters had depth and were engaging. Everything seemed set up for fantastic second half, complete with more quirky comedy and some intriguing family drama.

But, alas, it was not to be.

Second half is pretty dull, even silly, and ends in random anticlimactic fashion. After a largely comedy-driven first half, director Ang Lee gets all serious in the second half, turning the movie into a full-on drama. Laughs become few and far between. Moreover, the drama is dull, pointless and not at all profound. Very disappointing, especially considering how well it was set up.

Can't complain about the cast though. Heaps of big names, some of which weren't that big at the time: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maquire, Christina Ricci (16/17 at the time) and Elijah Wood. We even have Allison Janney and Katie Holmes in minor roles. This was Katie Holmes' first role, in either film or TV.
April 19, 2016
interesting to say the least...wont crack my dvd collection though
April 13, 2016
this is in my top 20 movies ever
September 10, 2015
The Ice Storm mirrors my once-favourited tragic comedy American Beauty in many subtle ways. It's less of a farce and more of an omniscient drama compares to American Beauty. Surely an underrated classic
July 29, 2015
Ang Lee's masterful film is almost too dark to take, but it is probably one of the most powerful examination of American culture at a very precise moment in time.
½ July 10, 2015
The late '60s/early '70s were a hard era for everyone. Gone were the years of trusting the government, of listening to cultural norms; too cynical were the times. After decades of oppressive societal expectations, housewives no longer had to imitate Lucy Ricardo, the kiddos didn't have to reek of Cherry Cokes and wholesomeness, and the husbands suddenly didn't have to only bring home the bacon; they had to think about their feelings, too. Some thrived, some stumbled - putting out one's most kept secret emotions onto a table for everyone to see isn't an easy thing to do, after all. So you had your Bob and Carol and Ted and Alices, swinging away and having fun (for the most part), but you also had your bourgeoisie trying on the clothes of the open-minded and not knowing what the hell to do with them.
"The Ice Storm" is a flurry of sexual, drugged out, pathos infused liberties, perfectly capturing the simultaneously free and miserable echoes of its time period. None of the characters are happy, so much so that it seems fairly plausible that they miss the suffocation of the time in which they could mimic "Leave It to Beaver" and be contently empty. Ang Lee, pre-"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and post-"Sense and Sensibility", directs "The Ice Storm" not as a head-shaking cynic but as a voyeur helpless when approached by the lost decisions of Rick Moody's characters.
Taking place over the Thanksgiving weekend of 1973, "The Ice Storm" puts in motion a parade of maladjusted actions, specifically focusing on the Hood family and their neighbors, the Carvers. Mrs. Hood (Joan Allen) has picked up a shoplifting habit and is hardly speaking to her husband; Mr. Hood, in the meantime, is having a soulless affair with Mrs. Carver (Sigourney Weaver). And as Mr. Carver (Jamey Sheridan) busies himself with out-of-town business ventures, the kids of the families mostly hang around his home. Wendy Hood (Christina Ricci), a sexually curious 14-year-old, is in the process of attempting to seduce both Carver sons (Elijah Wood, Adam Hann-Byrd), either through make out sessions or show-me-yours-I'll-show-you-mine romps. The older Hood child, Paul (Tobey Maguire), is away at prep school, experimenting with drugs and attempting to win the heart of the damaged Libbets Casey (Katie Holmes). All of these characters are like trains ready to derail, and as an upcoming ice storm looms in the clouds, ready to destroy the premises, their emotions begin to mount until they reach an existential breaking point.
"The Ice Storm" is not the kind of film you analyze, the kind you have all figured out before the closing tells you otherwise. This is a movie you want to observe, to listen to, to discuss later but savor in the moment. The plot is complicated, sure to tangle - but it effortlessly connects the dots like a well-guided Altman epic, brilliant in its conception and brilliant in how well each side-plot complements the other. It's a movie of heightened discontent, one in which the characters attempt to escape by utilizing their newfound freedoms (sex, alcohol, drugs) but realize that, deep inside, a larger void is waiting to be filled and material things can hardly do the job. The film causes an ache in our heart, partly because it's difficult to see people suffer so intensely and partly because we are just as much in the dark regarding how to end their misery as they are. They feel helpless, we feel helpless - it's a vicious cycle that stays unforgettable.
The performances are phenomenal, the actors embodying their roles instead of keeping a safe distance away from them. "The Ice Storm" is a movie built on emotion and life-is-comedy situations, not worn out melodramatic devices - Lee, certainly one of the most versatile directors of the last two decades, keeps melancholy pumping and solution at a safe distance; in Tinsel Town, it's easy to invent a resolution for the sake of a happy ending. But things aren't so simple in "The Ice Storm" - agony is much more common than glittered fuckery.
June 12, 2015
Ang Lee is the master. Two-time Oscar-winner for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Life of Pi (2012) and director of Sense and Sensibility and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, no one creates a sense of time and place like Lee. This is on magnificent display in the very specific setting of 1973 New England. Baby boomers are making money and leaving (some) of their hippy roots behind for the lure of capitalism. They preach to and fret over their kids about the dangers of sex and drugs while participating in all the exact same behavior. Marital strife ensues.

Kevin Kline is sleeping with married Sigourney Weaver next door. She's using him for the sexual excitement she no longer feels with her husband, he thinks it's for real. His wife played by the sublime Joan Allen is a repressed, shoplifting homemaker looking for a meaning to her adulthood as the kids begin to leave the house. The kids are fantastic too. Christina Ricci owns her role as their politically minded daughter complete with toe socks and a desire to deflower as many boys as possible just to stick it to dear old dad. Elijah Wood is her main target - and Weaver's son. And Tobey Maguire, then unknown, is perfect as Kline's son, coming home from school for the holiday weekend and counting the minutes to get away from the tension.

The mood of the 70's is captured in the precise production design, costuming and plotting which includes lots of pot-smoking dinner parties, period musical cues and a Saturday night key party that is unforgettable. All of this hedonism of course leading to a terrible twist of fate as all the characters find themselves imperiled by their choices and the titular storm of the century. Rare is the film that grows in richness over the years the way this one has.

The entire cast is perfection down to great supporting players like Allison Janney and Henry Czerny as more swinging neighbors and Katie Holmes as Maguire's love interest. Weaver won the British Academy Award for her role and was Golden Globe nominated. But while The Chicago Film Critics Circle and the Writers Guild noticed the film's brilliance, this small masterpiece received no Oscar love at all in a highly competitive year. A shame as it's one of the best films of the 1990's, a personal favorite and the best Thanksgiving film ever.
March 9, 2015
This paints a picture of a deeply confused and frustrated group of upper middle class suburbanites in the 1970s who all seem to be searching for some kind of steady ground during a tumultuous time in history. The teenager's stories of sexual and emotional experimentation are particularly fascinating and often touching. The adults seem plain lost in the woods with potentially no real resolution. Does the tragedy that occurs during the storm bring them any closer to having more honest conversations with each other? Maybe. Or maybe not.
March 1, 2015
I watched this movie because it was recommended on several "best of Netflix" lists. With so many excellent actors you'd think the movie would have something to offer. I'm a big fan of edgy, artsy films but this was sadly disappointing. There was an underlying rapy theme that left a bad taste in my mouth. Also there is little to no ice storm in this movie, they don't even lead up to there being a storm until at least an hour in. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did...it was very disjointed. It's not a terrible movie but it really let me down.
½ February 15, 2015
A great ensemble piece with wonderful performances from Wood, Wever, and even Holmes. Ang Lee is such a great director never making the same movie twice.
January 20, 2015
Muy buen reparto , una buena historia
December 7, 2014
Dark, deep and real. Basic CT life.
November 30, 2014
Filled with great performances and a moody atmosphere, The Ice Storm is my favorite of Ang Lee's films. The cinematography in this film is gorgeous, but unlike some of Lee's other films it's always realistic and feels like you're actually there. He captures the 1970s perfectly.
November 19, 2014
"When you think about it, it's not easy to keep from just wandering out of life. It's like someone's always leaving the door open to the next world, and if you aren't paying attention you could just walk through it, and then you've died. That's why in your dreams it's like you're standing in that doorway and the dying people and the newborn people pass by you and brush up against you as they come in and out of the world during the night. You get spun around, and in the morning it takes a while to find your way back into the world".
November 18, 2014
technically excellent in every aspect, but fails to manage its web of interconnected plots or develop any of its characters; the result is a beautiful husk of a tragedy that says much but reveals little
October 19, 2014
Review In A Nutshell:

Thrice now, Ang Lee has struck me in places I never knew existed; first with Life of Pi, then with Brokeback Mountain, now with The Ice Storm. I am now going to provide in this entry a thorough review, as this is another one of those films that I need time and another viewing to fully appreciate its narrative and thematic intentions; everywhere I look during The Ice Storm's running time is filled with symbolism or metaphors and it is a lot to take in a single and initial sitting. Though I am still taking The Ice Storm in, I cannot deny that this film was marvellous. It featured identifiable characters and issues that are both fascinating and thought provoking. It also features simple but thematically deep dialogue; it does not serve to push the plot forward as Ang Lee, the director, has already achieved that through the movements and decisions of its characters. The dialogue serves as a hook to grab our attention, and it is up to us whether we want to resist or give into it. The Ice Storm is a film that requires patience from its audience, it takes its time revealing the secrets and drives of its multiple characters, but Lee does not make it entirely difficult to sit through; he always presents something that would want us to leap into the next scene, hoping to learn more and more about them. The film features a dynamic cast, with each member showcasing the best of their abilities, particularly in their ability to evoke drama without having to show it forcefully and abundantly; I guess some of that credit also goes to Ang Lee for being able to handle and focus on multiple actors and uniformly give each one the direction that their role demands. The only reason why I refused to push my score up any higher as I am still suffering from the aftershocks of the film's complexity. It would take me a couple of days and viewings to entirely digest it. If future experiences of this film would remain positive, then this film without a doubt would reach perfection under my eyes.
½ October 15, 2014
I still don't understand the point of it. It's an overrated and sad movie about characters consumed with sex. (First and only viewing - 10/10/2014)
October 14, 2014
Review In A Nutshell:

Thrice now, Ang Lee has struck me in places I never knew existed; first with Life of Pi, then with Brokeback Mountain, now with The Ice Storm. I am now going to provide in this entry a thorough review, as this is another one of those films that I need time and another viewing to fully appreciate its narrative and thematic intentions; everywhere I look during The Ice Storm's running time is filled with symbolism or metaphors and it is a lot to take in a single and initial sitting. Though I am still taking The Ice Storm in, I cannot deny that this film was marvellous. It featured identifiable characters and issues that are both fascinating and thought provoking. It also features simple but thematically deep dialogue; it does not serve to push the plot forward as Ang Lee, the director, has already achieved that through the movements and decisions of its characters. The dialogue serves as a hook to grab our attention, and it is up to us whether we want to resist or give into it. The Ice Storm is a film that requires patience from its audience, it takes its time revealing the secrets and drives of its multiple characters, but Lee does not make it entirely difficult to sit through; he always presents something that would want us to leap into the next scene, hoping to learn more and more about them. The film features a dynamic cast, with each member showcasing the best of their abilities, particularly in their ability to evoke drama without having to show it forcefully and abundantly; I guess some of that credit also goes to Ang Lee for being able to handle and focus on multiple actors and uniformly give each one the direction that their role demands. The only reason why I refused to push my score up any higher as I am still suffering from the aftershocks of the film's complexity. It would take me a couple of days and viewings to entirely digest it. If future experiences of this film would remain positive, then this film without a doubt would reach perfection under my eyes.
October 4, 2014
The most dramatic Ang Lee's film I have ever watched. I was not prepared for such tension throughout the film, which was poured from one layer to another, from the boredom of living a life full of nothingness that was so extreme that "swing party" aka. "switching wife feast" horribly became a real thing, the adolescent desire to discover life that is sometime deadly in the absence of proper attention and understanding from the "adults", and the destructive force of "malfunctioning" families upon their members. If the "Father Knows Best" trilogy by Ang Lee proves that an awesome father can mend a broken family or its members' broken hearts, his "The Ice Storm" really points to the other direction - how a father can destroy his family by not understanding it endearing value to his very own life, by neglecting the fact that it is the happiness of his family, of his wife, of his children, that is the final goal of his life, not the boring work, not the adventurous extramarital affairs. By that, this modern film seems to be much more "traditional" than his progressive, sensitive and clever "Father Knows Best" Trilogy. This film reminds me of "Ordinary People" (the film that is, unfortunately enough, better known for "stealing" the Oscar for Best Picture from the ever epic "Raging Bull") - another film about malfunctioning family, about the forever difficult relationship between parents and their coming-of-age children, especially in the presence of psychological trauma within the family. But "The Ice Storm" is a superior film - a film about boredom that is somehow interesting to watch, a film about insensitive people that is somehow sensitive and attractive enough for the audience to feel and to reflect, a film about a real "ice storm" that really depicts the coldness among family members, but at the same time proves that they, still thrive for the warmness that still exists in their love for each other. And I have not even mentioned the strange aspects of the film about existentialism, the peculiar American psychology of the 1970s, and the generation conflict and its inducing trauma (the original novel must be one hell of a literature piece)! In short, those who love Ang Lee's works may feel strange about this film, and it is indeed a strange film, even a tough film to watch (given the light-warmheartedness of the other Ang Lee's films). But as meaningful as film can go, this is one hell of a meaningful film, an essential film for anyone wondering why we have to care for our family more than we care about ourselves.
September 4, 2014
Mr. Lee re-examines the lethargic corruption of suburban life with satire and riveting tragedy.
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