It is easy to get caught up on the coincidences that The Ice Storm shares with the future works of its filmmaker and cast members. Four years before playing Spider-man, the film opens with Tobey Maguire reading and musing over a comic book. Spider-man is even made direct reference to in the novel by Rick Moody which this film is based on, and the super-hero family of the Fantastic Four is a central metaphor for the narrative. Director Ang Lee (The Life of Pi,
would eventually direct a super-hero film as well, with 2003’s Hulk. In reality, however, The Ice Storm shares much more with
Lee’s early work than the films which would follow. Brokeback Mountain
Though the narrative is a great deal more cynical and tragic, the style of The Ice Storm aligns more with the ‘Father Knows Best’ trilogy than it does any of Lee’s later works. Much of this may be because of the film’s haunting score by Mychael Danna, which utilizes flutes for the more poignant sections. The story follows the evening of particularly unpredictable ice storm on Thanksgiving in 1973 suburban
. Two families are caught up in
their own melodrama as Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal began to unravel in
front of the public’s eyes. More significant to the storyline is the relationship
between child and parent, with many of the adults acting in a manner similarly
irresponsible and immature to how their child is also behaving. Connecticut
The cast of parents and children is filled with a number of recognizable young faces, with Katie Holmes giving her film debut in a smaller role. The two main families in the film are the Hoods and the Carvers. Elena and Ben Hood (Joan Allen and Kevin Kline) have a sixteen-year-old boy named Paul (Maguire) and a fourteen-year-old daughter named Wendy (Christina Ricci), while Jim and Janey Carver (Jamey Sheridan and Sigourney Weaver) have two boys named Mikey and Sandy (Elijah Wood and Adam Hann Byrd). Ben is having an affair with Janey, while Wendy experiments with both of the Carver boys in their basement.
Sexuality is something to be flaunted and discussed openly in The Ice Storm, especially over casual conversation at dinner parties. This was an era which even nicknamed an informant in the Watergate scandal after the popular pornographic film. Never before (or since) was there a more sexually liberated society, and Lee satires the parent’s longing to act younger than they are while their children attempt to act older.
The Blu-ray release of The Ice Storm presents a restored 2K digital film transfer, supervised by director Ang Lee and director of photography Frederick Elmes, with a 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The special features include a commentary track with Lee and producer/screenwriter James Schamus. There is also a making-of documentary with interviews from cast and crew, and additional interviews with novelist Rick Moody. Some of the more unique special features include a series of illustrated audio interviews, while there are also the traditional deleted scenes and trailers.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Disc Features: 9/10