Why is The Ice Storm so awful? Loaded title notwithstanding, this is what you’d call an upper middle-class John Updike or Bergman morality play, minus bite or wit. Not only is there zero impact of any significance—otherwise fine actors Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Joan Allen look lost and bored—the director Ang Lee also puts such a distance between himself, the characters and the viewers that a fatal detachment occurs to remind us, “Well, this isn’t how I experienced the 70s.” 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, 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 Sense and Sensibility. It’s what he said following this which may pinpoint why he fails to authentically frame The Ice Storm—“I mimic what I hear and see.” Audiences stayed away; they didn’t want someone who hadn’t lived through and enjoyed the sexual revolution to fake how gloomy it rarely was.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.