Starring: Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire, Adam Hann-Byrd
Director: Ang Lee
A portrait of suburban life in the 70’s, two families fates intertwine on the eve of a huge ice storm in Connecticut. Infidelity, casual sex, and drugs are all explored, as two middle class neighboring couples and their teen children’s lives and loves unravel.
It’s a film of lack of feeling, of disconnect. Everyone seems to be suffering, and yet they don’t entirely understand why and aren’t able to directly confront things, but divert their feelings into other outlets. Ben (Kline) is having an affair with Janey (Weaver) but it’s the most passionless affair imaginable, with him talking about his golf score. His wife, Elena (Allen) starts to suspect something, but he rejects her suspicions and her anger feels so tame. Meanwhile, Wendy (Ricci) is starting to explore her own sexuality with both of her neighbours sons, but her efforts are based more on her friends blunt sexual talk than any real feeling.
It’s a film about the dysfunctional and the disaffected, but with Ang Lee’s restraint, it’s all about what’s not said, what’s not able to be expressed or ackknowledged. He’s a master at showing you everything, making you feel everything, and yet saying very little. And I love that about his work.
Personally, I found this film a bit slow, I think that suburban stories for some reason don’t resonate with me that much, even though I grew up in suburbia. I should relate, perhaps, but I don’t. Here, I love the way that there is so much going on under the surface of middle class lives, and that everyone is up to something. It’s a good film, with excellent performances, subtlety and nuance, and I liked the way that the adult characters had no real idea about the teenagers lives, and the looming threat of the ice storm on the horizon. But much like it’s characters, is all felt a bit disconnected to me.
See It If: Ang Lee fans and drama lovers, this one should go on your watch list.