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 "The Ice Storm"

"The Ice Storm" on DVD

Cold Reality

Ang Lee's film about family values or the lack of same is if nothing else an interesting time capsule of early 1970's America.

It also sends a pro-family message via its look at some very messed up people.

Kevin Kline and Joan Allen are middle aged married couple Ben and Elena Hood. They have a successful life, two teenaged kids, and a nice place in the suburbs of Connecticut.

They also have their share of messed up heads.

Tobey Maguire is their 16 year old son, Paul, who's attending a private school away from home. He and his fourteen year old sister, Wendy (Christina Ricci), are both in the years of blossoming sexuality, and are both keen on exploring what puberty has to offer. Paul envisions a wonderful night with the girl of his dreams, in her New York mansion (vacated by her family for the Thanksgiving holiday), while the younger Wendy's experimentation is more limited to "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" with the neighbor boys.

Ben and Elena are good friends of the neighbors, especially Janey (Sigourney Weaver). Ben's an especially good friend of Janey's: they've been carrying on behind the scenes (though Janey's such a bitch one wonders why - other than the adventure - Ben would bother).

Things come to a head just before Ben and Elena arrive at what turns out to be a mate-swapping party at the home of a friend and, as an ice storm hits meteorologically, metaphorically and emotionally, the movie picks steam and barrels along to a tragic conclusion that actually ends up bringing the Hood family closer together than they've been in a while.

The performances are all excellent, especially Joan Allen (you really feel for her), and Christina Ricci as the put upon confused teen. Kline does his usual fine job and Weaver's performance leaves you hating her guts - which means she also pulls off her character with fine skill.

Director Lee does a fine job not only of capturing the era, but of drawing us into the emotional athletics being performed.

"The Ice Storm" isn't really a movie to be enjoyed; it's more like an experience - but by no means is it an ordeal, and the message it sends is a positive one despite all the negativity that happens on the screen.

The DVD is in widescreen, anamorphic (16x9 TV compatible) and with Dolby Digital 5.0 surround. Video quality is very good; the sound is also first rate, though we missed the center front channel information that locates dialogue at the TV screen.

Extras include a featurette and the trailer.

The Ice Storm, from 20th Century Fox Home Video
114 min, widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.0
Starring Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver
Produced by Ted Hope, James Schamus and Ang Lee
Written by James Schamus, Directed by Ang Lee.


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Updated May 5, 2010