In spite of a lavish DVD release from Criterion several years back, Ang Lee’s 1997 film The Ice Storm remains criminally underrated. Based on arguably the best novel by Rick Moody, Lee’s film features an impeccable cast including Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, a young Christina Ricci, and more.
Not a Thanksgiving film per se, the film is set over the course of a long turkey day weekend in frosty suburban Connecticut. The setting is 1973, and the delayed arrival of the counterculture has set adrift the town’s adults and teenagers alike.
Although the story takes a tragic turn, it’s also filled with moments of tenderness and wry humor. Even as Kline’s wife (Joan Allen) begins to piece together her husband’s infidelity, she still remembers to pick up the cranberry sauce. “You like it on your turkey sandwiches”, she reminds him.
But the most hilarious thanksgiving moment belongs to Ricci. When asked by Kline to say grace before the family dinner, she unloads with the following:
Thank you for this Thanksgiving holiday, and for all the material possessions that we have and enjoy. And for letting us White people kill all the Indians and steal their tribal lands, and stuff ourselves like pigs even though children in Asia are being napalmed…”
Kline cuts off his precocious teenage daughter at this point and tries to get dinner back on track.
In the end, the family survives the weekend and realizes that their bond is stronger than they realized.
The Criterion edition is a two disc set. The first disc contains the film and features commentary from director Lee and screenwriter James Schamus. Disc two features deleted scenes, as well as recent interviews with novelist Moody and cast members Kline, Weaver, Ricci and Tobey Maguire. Even as its cast have gone on to bigger box office hits, The Ice Storm still represents a career highlight for all involved.
The Ice Storm is available for rental from the Netflix subscription service, or for purchase from Criterion.com and other DVD retailers.