Ice Storm [1997]

Asian American director Ang Lee sums up America in the early 1970s by focusing on the arrival of the sexual revolution in the 'burbs. Isolationism within a family, consumerism, and selfishness are personified by a cast that captures the self-obsession within two New England families. As the children struggle awkwardly with adolescence, their parents stumble through sexual experimentation. In the days of Watergate and Vietnam, society is breaking boundaries and ignoring convention. Following suit, these families are eschewing polite barriers and social taboos, with disastrous results. The "ice storm" of the title refers not only to a natural phenomenon but is a (rather heavy-handed) metaphor for a pervasive emotional temperament. The entire cast delivers textured, finely nuanced performances. This movie lingers in the psyche not only for the scope of the tragedy at its conclusion, but for Lee's often humorous and stingingly accurate assessment of pop culture. Based on Rick Moody's novel, this won the best-screenplay award at Cannes in 1997. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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