Icicles sway and chime in the frozen trees, sounding notes of impending doom. It is 1973: the era of shag carpet, corduroy, and Connecticut key parties. Richard Nixon is smiling a greasy smile on a rabbit-eared TV. Yet despite the kitschy-fossil ingredients, Ang Lee’s Ice Storm isn’t an arch Me Generation satire. It’s ”a disaster movie…like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Or so the director says on a fun, gossipy commentary on this deluxe two-disc edition.
Lee’s devastating follow-up to 1995’s Sense and Sensibility is no less a period piece than its 19th-century-set predecessor. In fact, it’s like a lost installment in John Updike’s Rabbit cycle. Kevin Kline is heartbreaking as a stiff, turtle-necked dad whose distant wife (Joan Allen) drives him to a zipless affair with a lonely, liberated neighbor (Sigourney Weaver). But his heart’s not in it; he’s just afraid of missing out on the times. The confusion trickles down to the kids, as Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood, and Christina Ricci prematurely flail at adulthood. In new interviews, the cast still seems surprised by how much bite the movie has beneath its groovy formica and polyester trappings. ”It’s one of those films that lingers with you and sits with you and is uncomfortable,” says Wood. After seeing Lee’s self-help suburban hedonists try and fail to make sense of a world that’s changing too fast, you have to agree. A-