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The Ice Storm

movie review by Christopher Null

3 1/2 stars


Kitschy seventies comedy does battle with some painful dramatics in Ang Lee's highly-regarded The Ice Storm, but the question of which of these wins is still in the air.

It's 1973, and the sexual revolution is in full bloom. So are the thick shag carpets, glass-bead necklaces, Watergate hearings, and teen angst. And its an Arctic Thanksgiving weekend in Connecticut where these things all come together, at the home of a small and highly dysfunctional family.

Kline and Allen are the hapless parents of Maguire and Ricci, and everyone's up to no good in the sex department. Dad is having an affair with the next door neighbor (Weaver), and the kids are ripe for all manner of trouble with show-and-tell games, experimental drugs, et. al. Oh, and Mom is pretty pissed about all of this.

Taken the wrong way, all of this can be pretty hilarious, and for the first hour, it is, as reminiscing over the maroon tux I wore to my cousin's wedding wins out over the drama behind the non-stop 70's jokes. But after that, the film takes a somber, almost melodramatic tone, and it ceases poking fun and starts asking questions -- questions which, ultimately, are never answered to any degree of satisfaction.

The tragic ending is expected and simply doesn't leave you at peace. While I'm not the type of moviegoer who needs everything neatly spelled out, I do appreciate some sense of closure. In the end, this film is an enjoyable one, but it may be a little too hip for its own good.

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