THE ICE STORM The Criterion Collection
Hard to believe its only been 11 years since Ang Lee was supposed to make his English language debut with this stunning snapshot of early seventies family life in an upscale Connecticut suburb. But the producers of Sense and Sensibility tapped him in time to preempt it. And upon The Ice Storms subsequent release it was buried under the avalanche of marketing and publicity generated by Titanic. Luckily for us there’s always Criterion. This is a movie that only deserves to be a Criterion Collection release but needs to be because it is one of those films that everybody knows they should get around to watching but never quite find the time for.
I was about eight or nine when the events in the film take place and not only can I testify to the accuracy of Lees mis en scene but more important I can testify to the way his characters resonate. These are people that less canny storytellers would judge harshly but they are clearly lost not only in their morally confused times but in their bankrupt hearts, reaching out to connect in the most surface ways and ending up more lonely and confused than before. Lee and his cast realized early on that the least loveable of these characters was still a human being, that the most dysfunctional family was still a family, and that grace might be found even in the midst of degradation. Good choices, bad choices, seemingly random tragedies and the ice storm itself mix to tell a story that offers hope against the bleakest of historic backdrops
The assembled cast here was simply insane. Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Katie Holmes, Elijah Wood, Kevin Kline, Joan Allen and Sigourney Weaver and a number of other recognizable talents form a sort of acting supernova and in the excellent and lengthy documentary we are treated to a genuinely in depth look at the actors process from their point of view offering much more insight that most DVD documentaries would instead of glossing over this sort of stuff merely to get to the next anecdote.