Why is The Ice Storm so awfully chilly? The loaded title notwithstanding, this is what you’d call a middle-class John Updike or Bergman kind of morality play, minus bite or wit or lasting impression. Not only is there zero impact of any significance—primarily because there’s no one in it to emotionally touch audiences; Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Joan Allen look lost and fatally bored—the director Ang Lee also puts such a distance between his characters and the viewers that we watch with fatal detachment. We keep thinking, “Well, now, this isn’t how I experienced the 70s,” and probably very few others did, either. Lee admits he hires researchers to find out about the times during which his movies take place. Who are his researchers here? Apprentice New England morticians? Taiwan-bored, and educated at the University of Illinois and the NYU Film School, Lee is no slouch of a moviemaker; he’s eclectic on subject, a pristine traffic manager, and tasteful. He has said “language will always be a barrier,” and this in reference to the tough time he had with the boring Sense and Sensibility. But it’s what he said following this that may pinpoint why he fails to frame a movie like The Ice Storm—“I mimic what I hear and see.” That’s possibly why audiences stayed away; they didn’t want someone who hadn’t lived through the sexual revolution to fake how gloomy it never was.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.