The Ice Storm (1997)

At its heart, this Ang Lee adaptation of the Rick Moody novel is a humane, sane, hilarious, and rich-as-mousse dispatch on the woes, risks, and costs of the all-American family, climaxing in the very real 1973 winter storm of the title and its largely symbolic fallout. The multiple character study encompasses an affable Dad (Kevin Kline) who’s equally bewildered by his affair with a trendy neighbor (Sigourney Weaver) and his slowly disintegrating family, a haunted Mom (Joan Allen) who’s lost somewhere between girlhood and disillusionment, a rebellious daughter (Christina Ricci) who’s experimenting with shoplifting and mock sex with the neighbor’s boys (Elijah Wood and Adam Hann-Byrd), and a sweet-natured pothead son (Tobey Maguire) who’s impassively grappling with puberty. But the real subject is vain, media-drunk modernity itself, and how it leaves us unprepared for the worst things in life—things that can happen at night, when everything’s frozen over.

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