The Ice Storm is a sad reality for many families on Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! The Ice Storm may be set in the early 70’s, but it has the relatable cynicism of the late 90’s. The 1994 book was perfect for director Ang Lee’s love of human drama. The Ice Storm centers around 2 screwed up families from a well off suburban town in Connecticut. Most of their problems are connected to the sex, drugs, and alcohol that ran rampant in the 70’s. The Hood family consists of Ben, Elena, Wendy, and Paul. The Carver family consists of Jim, Janey, Mikey, and Sandy. Though it wasn’t nominated for a single Academy Award, the cast is filled with Oscar favorites and newcomers.
As if it wasn’t already similar to The Big Chill, Kevin Kline plays Ben who’s having an affair with his promiscuous neighbor. Sigourney Weaver got most of the awards attention playing the manipulative Janey. Joan Allen is left emotionally repressed as Ben’s mostly unaware wife Elena. Jamey Sheridan is mostly left out as Janey’s husband Jim until he’s faced with a similar situation. The kids aren’t much better with Christina Ricci growing up too fast as the sexually experimental Wendy. She mostly complains about Nixon and fools around with the Carver brothers. Elijah Wood plays the more curious Mikey who spends more time with Wendy. Adam Hann-Byrd plays the more destructive Sandy who wants to get closer to Wendy.
The implication is uncomfortable, but they never show anything. Paul is Wendy’s older brother visiting from a boarding school. Tobey Maguire ironically uses family analogies from a Fantastic Four comic that his character reads. Paul is interested in Libbets played by Katie Holmes in her very first acting role before Dawson’s Creek. An awkward Thanksgiving dinner is merely the set up to an eventful ice storm the following night. The couples confront their marital issues at a key party hosted by Allison Janney. Wendy makes her decision about which boy to be with. Paul gets a chance with Libbets before she passes out. The more dangerous the storm got, the more I expected something terrible to happen. The ending is tragic, but it does succeed in bringing the families together. The Ice Storm may thaw even the coldest of hearts.