7.5/10
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290 user 129 critic

The Ice Storm (1997)

R | | Drama | 26 November 1997 (USA)
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In suburban New Canaan, Connecticut, 1973, middle class families experimenting with casual sex and substance abuse find their lives beyond their control.

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(based upon the novel by), (screenplay by)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »

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A senior chef lives with his three grown daughters; the middle one finds her future plans affected by unexpected events and the life changes of the other household members.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Ben Hood
... Elena Hood
... Janey Carver
... George Clair
... Paul Hood
... Wendy Hood
... Mikey Carver
... Sandy Carver
... Francis Davenport
... Jim Carver
... Dorothy Franklin
William Cain ... Ted Shackley
... Philip Edwards
... Mrs. Gadd
... Libbets Casey
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Storyline

In the weekend after thanksgiving 1973 the Hoods are skidding out of control. Benjamin Hood reels from drink to drink, trying not to think about his trouble at the office. His wife, Elena, is reading self help books and losing patience with her husband's lies. Their son, Paul, home for the holidays, escapes to the city to pursue an alluring rich girl from his prep school. And young, budding nymphomaniac, Wendy Hood roams the neighborhood, innocently exploring liquor cabinets and lingerie drawers of her friends' parents, looking for something new. Then an ice storm hits, the worst in a century. Things get bad... Written by Emory Herbertson <shrikes.fox@worldnet.att.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The American Dream was over. But the hangover was just beginning. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and drug use, including scenes involving children, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Fox Searchlight Pictures

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Release Date:

26 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La tormenta de hielo  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$75,183, 28 September 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,837,632, 8 February 1998
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the novel The Ice Storm, Rick Moody writes "And sometimes Paul himself was Ben Grimm, and sometimes he was Peter Parker, a.k.a. the Spider-Man" Coincidentally, Tobey Maguire plays both Paul and Peter Parker in the film versions. See more »

Goofs

After her very fumbled sexual encounter in the car parked in the driveway, Elena, in windswept heavy rain, returns to the party house to help her husband who has been violently sick in the downstairs toilet. Though she carried an opened umbrella, her ankle length coat, fully visible onscreen, should have been absolutely soaked and there should have been other evidence of the heavy rain elsewhere on the coat. It was evidently completely dry. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Train Conductor: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This train, originating from New York's Grand Central Station, is back in service. Next stop will be New Canaan, Connecticut. New Canaan, Connecticut next stop.
Paul Hood: [narration] In issue 141 of the Fantastic Four, published in November, 1973, Reed Richards had to use his anti-matter weapon on his own son, who Aannihilus has turn into the Human Atom Bomb. It was a typical predicament for the Fantastic Four, because they weren't like other superheroes. ...
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Soundtracks

Dirty Love
Written by Frank Zappa
Used by permission of Munchkin Music
Performed by Frank Zappa
Courtesy of Rykodisc
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User Reviews

 
not the kind of film to watch right before you want to go to sleep; one of the best films of 97
2 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

The summary statement I write I mean as a compliment. In short, this film will keep you up thinking about the characters, the whole swarm of tragedy sewn into these characters, as it is a true look at American familial dysfunction. It's also the Chinese-directed cousin of American Beauty- in some ways just as compelling (if maybe a little more heavy on the metaphors)- and by the end of it, however down and drained the film made me feel, I knew I'd seen my favorite Ang Lee film thus far. He takes the subject matter- the script by James Schamus, and the nuanced performances- and makes it so that we feel for these people, however trapped into their upper-middle class walks of life. The ice theme does work for a good lot of the film, and even when it gets hammered down to the line, I was still moved by how these families intertwined, the bleakness but also the little bits of light coming through.

In fact, the film shares a good deal with American Beauty- two families, both fairly screwed up, with infidelity, drugs, procrastination, young lust, and a certain pining for the old days going steadily down the tubes. One family are the Hooods (Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Christina Ricci and Tobey MaGuire); the other are the Carvers (Sigourney Weaver, Elijah Wood, Henry Czerny, and Adam Hann-Byrd). Either side has their share of dilemmas, psychological cramps, and just total aimlessness. The performances from all are unique and quiet, desperate, and at least a few (in tune with the 'ice' theme), in particular Weaver, Wood and Allen, are numbed. Basically, there isn't as much story as there is attention to the fates and parallels of the characters.

Among the lot though, Kline has some of his best work to date, with his controlling demeanor masking something very insecure; Hann-Byrd and Wood are totally complimentary, so to speak, in that they work well at being brothers of the same weird seed; Allen, not much more to say that hasn't been said by others; and even smaller roles filled by Katie Holmes and David Krumholtz are worth the time. There stories all lead up to the big chunk of the story (ala the 'day you die' stuff in American Beauty), and at times it's painful, cringe-inducing, darkly amusing, and at the end hitting notes that had me eyes go wide. And the ending, when it comes, is sentimental, but never unrealistic. This is the kind of tone that Lee would also use for Brokeback Mountain, but here it contains even more depth and intrigue into the dysfunction, ironically in only the span of a few days vs. the span of twenty years in Brokeback.

You may, whether you like the film or not, will want to talk about it once it is over. It of course can be argued, and I would argue it, that the 'ice' motif is pushed to as far as it can go, and then some (then again it IS called the Ice Storm). But in contrast, another minor theme is handled superbly, involving the Fantastic Four comic book that Maguire's character gives some narration about. By looking through an abstract of a comic book, there's some extra meaning that can be put into the film, the power that can be taken away from superheroes as well as the enclosed New Canaan citizens. Along with some great 70's era period use- the Nixon/Watergate stuff adding another layer to the frustration (leading up to a truly disturbing moment involving a Nixon mask)- including music, creates a very impressive atmosphere. Maybe I'll check out the film again, when it's not past midnight, though even after hours the film packs a small wallop. 9.5/10


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