Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pose Reviews a Movie. #18: The Ice Storm

Ang Lee does family drama?! Woo-hoo!

I rented The Ice Storm 'cos I was in the mood for something angsty, and in terms of the mood I was expecting, it didn't disappoint.

The film takes place in the Nixonian era, colloquially known as 1973, and focuses on two suburban families--the Hoods and the Carvers. The art director did a great job on making this a period-piece--everything, from the costumes to the furniture to the art on household walls lives and breathes the 1970's. I was literally expecting Eric Forman to pull up in a station wagon at any moment. (It didn't happen).

The narrative of The Ice Storm wanders nomadically between characters, documenting the boredom-bred infidelity of Ben Hood (Kevin Kline) with the weirdly foxy Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver), the loneliness of his wife, Elena (Joan Allen), and the growing pains (, pleasures) of the Hood and Carver children.

The kids are simultaneously the darkest and most fun of the entire film. They represent the seedy underbelly of the suburban teen's world, complete with after-school-special-worthy substance abuse and sexual misadventures. However, the fun part comes from the fact that they're played by Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood. The Ice Storm was made in 1997, so these three were actually kids!

It's kind of funny that when they grew up, they went on to play a superhero (Maguire in Spiderman), a hobbit (Elijah Wood in...well, you know) and a major depressive (Ricci in Prozac Nation).

OK, maybe the Christina Ricci part isn't much of a surprise...she does deadpan pretty well, even when playing a 14 year old.

Regardless, the kids hold up a fascinating and functional mirror to their parents' lives, demonstrating that the issues of adolescence never really go away.

I liked The Ice Storm, though I'll admit it seems a little like the younger cousin of American Beauty and The Squid and the Whale--it wants to come along and play with the big kids, but ultimately, it's just not as cool.

Granted, those two films were released after this one, but the point is, the fam-dram has been done. If you're going to make one, it should probably bring something new to the table. The Ice Storm just serves Thanksgiving leftovers.

But a film doesn't have to be groundbreaking for its genre to be worthwhile--it probably should be if it's to be included in the Criterion Collection (which The Ice Storm is), but that's another story altogether. Overall, Lee's adaptation of the novel by Rick Moody met my expectations for an angsty drama. It was good that it paid attention to both the parents and the kids, and the parallels between them, but that was the only thing that stood out as being in any way unique.

I suppose I should be thankful though. At least it was better than Hulk.

1 comment:

MLClark said...

Rockstar review, Pose! I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusions here!