"It was a typical predicament for the Fantastic Four because they weren't like other superheroes. They were more like a family. And the more power they had, the more harm they could do to each other without even knowing it. That was the meaning of the Fantastic Four, that a family is like your own personal antimatter."
- Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire) in reflection
"Dear Lord, thank you for this Thanksgiving holiday. And for all the material possessions we have and enjoy. And for letting us white people kill all the Indians and steal their tribal lands. And stuff ourselves like pigs, even though children in Asia are being napalmed."--Wendy Hood (Christina Ricci) "Jesus! Enough, all right' Paul...roll'"
- Ben Hood (Kevin Kline)
"I'll show you mine if you show me yours."
- Wendy to Sandy Carver (Adam Hann-Byrd)
"Ben, you're boring me. I have a husband. I don't need another one."
- Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver) to Ben
"It's like when they say two squared' You think it means two times two equal four, but really they really mean a square. It's really space. It's not numbers, it's space. And it's perfect space. But only in your head. Because you can't draw a perfect square in the material world. But in your mind you can have perfect space."
- Mikey Carver (Elijah Wood) to his brother Sandy
"So the next time you're in the bathroom after someone else has been there, remember what kind of molecules you are in fact eating."
- Mikey, reciting his paper on molecules to his class
Sight and Sound - 02/01/1998
"...Perfectly conceived....THE ICE STORM is cinema at is most immaculate..."
USA Today - 09/26/1997
"...A jewel....A methodically constructed social satire of suburban boredom..."
Chicago Bulletin - 10/17/1997
"...The film is often satirical and frequently very funny, and quietly observant in its performances..."
Entertainment Weekly - 03/21/2008
"Kevin Kline is heartbreaking....Lee's self-help suburban hedonists try and fail to make sense of a world that's changing too fast..." -- Grade: A-
Wall Street Journal - 08/28/2009
"Ang Lee's elegant, shattering adaptation of the Rick Moody novel....The big chill is hardly reserved for the outdoors."
Director Ang Lee's main concern is a subtle examination of family life that he began with THE WEDDING BANQUET and EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN. With THE ICE STORM, Lee creates a truly American period film that is equally concerned with family relationships, set in 1970s New England. It is Thanksgiving, 1973, and the Carvers and the Hoods are two prototypical suburban families seemingly living the good life in New Canaan, Connecticut. Behind their New Age philosophies and polyester fashions, however, lies deep discontent. One husband carries on an unsatisfying affair with the other family's wife, while his teenage daughter experiments sexually with both of the neighbor's boys. When a winter storm descends upon their upper middle class neighborhood, buried resentments bubble over, leading to a tragedy neither family will ever forget.
An intense, well-acted drama based on the novel by Rick Moody, THE ICE STORM is a masterly depiction of the frigid emotional life of suburbia. Great care was taken to accurately recreate the fashion, philosophy, and music of the 1970s without devolving into camp. Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, and Joan Allen all excel in their roles, but it is the younger actors (Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood, Adam Hann-Byrd) who steal the show.
As a frigid winter storm descends upon the upper-middle-class Elysium of 1970s New Canaan, Connecticut, during Thanksgiving weekend, the climate within each immaculate home is equally chilly.
Essential Cinema |
Family Interaction |
Theatrical release: September 27, 1997 (N.Y.); October 17, 1997 (national).
Estimated budget: $18 million.
Ang Lee didn't come to the country until 1978, so he didn't really experience the 1970s in the United States. He hired researcher Jean Castelli, who wrote thousands of pages about culture of the 1970s to assist the crew. Lee also relied on the personal memories of his cast and crew. As he has done in several of his films, he assigned books for the cast to read, and handed out a questionnaire for the cast to complete in character.
"I felt [THE ICE STORM] was just the opposite of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. In SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, the social code wants you to be rational and good and the characters want to be bad; in THE ICE STORM the social code wants you to be bad, and actually they're not so bad after all--they still want to be good."--Ang Lee, in an interview on THE ICE STORM Web site.
Rick Moody's novel was brought to the attention of screewriter James Schamus by his wife, Nancy Krikorian, who is a literary scout.
"I told Mark Friedberg and Carol Oditaz, the costume designer, that whereas art direction usually supoports the acting, I wanted them to build a look that would work against the acting. Human nature in this movie is working against the look."--Ang Lee, in an interview on THE ICE STORM Web site.
Vermeer paintings served as an inspiration for SENSE AND SENSBILITY; photorealistic paintings served as an inspiration for the look of THE ICE STORM. "There's an empty, de-focused feeling to those paintings," Ang Lee explained on the THE ICE STORM Web site. "We used a lot of reflective and transparent material to get that effect: mirrors, chrome, and glass, which we later build out into the ice effect and shatter." Cubism was another influence on the film. "The structure of the film resembles Cubism, many facets put together in a narrative way so that you can watch it from many angles and they all mean something," Ang Lee said on THE ICE STORM Web site. "By the early Seventies Cubism had come almost to an end and simplified into just patterns."
"The first time I saw the film with all of its images of freezing and ice, I immediately thought of the sound of the Gamelan Ensemble, a group of brass and wood instrumments from Indonesia. It's actually quite paradoxical because the Gamelan comes from a tropical region, but the sounds of this instrument are quite icy."--Composer Mychael Danna, in an interview on THE ICE STORM Web site.