The insecurity of middle-class life.
In this movie of Ang Lee, one of the few of his fabulous production that I didn’t see yet, the sixteen year old Paul Hood reads in the train in which he is going from university to New Canaan, Connecticut a comic about The Fantastic Four in which he gets explained that the more you get involved in family life, the more difficult your life becomes, especially when the family moves in the negative zone.
Before his homecoming for Thanksgiving 1973 we meet hem and his family in a flash back: Paul is friends with Francis and in love with Littell Casey a beautiful girl very much interested in Dostojevski. His parents Elena en Ben, who were in therapy before, still don’t speak to eachother. Paul gets along well with his younger sister Wendy, as we see during a telephone conversation. Wendy tells him about Watergate and she hates Nixon. She also has a friend, Mickey, the son of the neighbours Carver. The Hoods are very familiar with them. They go to their party and Ben has a sexual relationship with Janey, Mickey’s mother. When Wendy is in Mickey’s house one day she meets his younger brother Sandy in the bathroom and suggests to show their sex, but Sandy starts to shout at all the sudden when it is his turn and then Mickey doesn’t want to see Wendy anymore.
Pauls father picks him up from the station and tells him in the car about masturbation. We see the family eating turkey at Thanksgining. Wendy is asked to say grace but starts to talk about the Indians who have been murdered.
Ben speaks to Janey about Elena and says that his wife is on the verge of saying something to him. Janey leaves the bedroom and the house and later Ben sees his daughter and Mickey making love. He carries her home through the snow and says the boy is not worth her.
Paul goes by train to see Libbets in Manhattan, while the television warns for bad weather. Elena is angry because Ben was in the house of the neighbours. They go to a party, that turns out the be a key party, in which at the end the women choose a carkey in of a bowl to find out with which man they will spend the night. Janey says to Ben she is not a toy for him.
In the meanwhile Paul gives drugs to Littell and Francis, who was also invited in order to make it easier to make love with Littell, Mickey is looking for Wendy, who drinks wodka with Sandy in her bedroom and goes with him under the sheets (see picture).
At the end Ben on the key party lays drunk in the bathroom. Elena picks Jimmy’s keys and they go out for a ride, but get smashed in the woods by the ice storm. Mickey sees the car on his way back and gets electrocuted by cables that fall down. When Ben drives down early in the morning he finds Mickey dead on the road and gives him to his father who was in his house with Elena.
Ben, Wendy and Elena go to get Paul from the station. He is delayed because the train had no electricity. Ben has to cry in the car that his family has been saved.
Till so far a short résumé of this very American movie, based on a novel from 1994 with the same name by Rick Moody and about middle class live, in which hypocrisy is the main theme. Paul is more mature than his father Ben, who tries to educate his son about sex.
Ben is sexually inhibited, but needs the neighbours wife to feel like an adult man.
Ang Lee shows with The Ice Storm a sharp picture of a pudish middle class society that is compensating with key parties, but cannot stop desintegration. Almost forty years later things haven’t changed a lot I guess, when hearing about politicians hanging their dicks around, if his saying is correct. At least they get punished more severe, like maybe will happen to DSK.
Here is the trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119349/