Jan 8, 2017

The Ice Storm: The Most Hetero-Phobic Movie Ever

The Netflix blurb of The Ice Storm (1997) said something about "hidden secrets coming out during Thanksgiving," and the director was Ang Lee of Brokeback Mountain, so I ordered it, expecting gay chararacters.

It's the 1970s, see?  We know because the tv is always in the background, showing us Richard Nixon, MASH, Room 222, The Green Hornet, Time Tunnel, and Divorce Court.

And there are these rich white heterosexual couples in New Canaan, Connecticut (Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Henry Czerny, Jamey Sheridan, Kate Burton).  I can't tell them apart, but it doesn't matter: they're all identical in every way.  They drink, abuse prescription drugs, shoplift, argue, and have sex with random people, whether they like them or not.

The sex is dreadful.  They insult each other, they feel guilty and start crying, or they get bored and leave halfway through.

They go to a key party, where the husbands put their car keys in a bowl, and each wife picks one of the sets at random and has to go home with whoever it belongs to.  Grim, set-faces, deer-in-headlights stares.  No one wants to do it, but they feel they must to be accepted in Stepford...um, I mean New Canaan.

Somehow they have time for Thanksgiving dinner before going back to the booze, sex, and angst.

There are also teenage kids around.  I don't know which belongs to which family, but at least I can tell them apart -- there's Frodo, Spiderman, Wednesday Addams, and Kid Brother (Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Adam Hann-Byrd), plus a couple in New York.

They're identical to their parents in every way.  They drink, use prescription drugs, shoplift, blow things up, listen to their parents argue, and obsessively try to have sex.  They never actually get sex -- one of them starts screaming, or passes out, or a parent discovers them and erupts in hypocritical rage.  But one senses that, if they did have sex, it would be horrible.

Spiderman sort-of narrates with over-intellectual, absurdly pretentious voiceovers:

"Your family is the void you emerge from, and the place you return to when you die. And that's the paradox: The closer you are drawn back in, the deeper into the void you go."

Read that over for a moment.  It's not a paradox at all.  "The closer you are drawn into the [void that is your family], the deeper into the [void that is your family] you go."

And there's an ice storm.  The streets are a mess, so stay inside.  Wouldn't you know it, this is the exact time that they all decide to rush out of the house in a huff, drive drunk, get on a train, and walk down the ice-encrusted road by the ocean, contemplating suicide.

You know someone is going to die.  Actually,by this point, you're hoping they all die, and get some relief from their horrible lives.

Not a lot of gay interest.  A little beefcake: some chests of random guys who are trying to have sex.

No gay characters, subtexts, or references, except for a "fag" yelled at a kid who can't catch a football.

But this is the most hetero-phobic film I've ever seen.  Heterosexuals lead desperate, tragic lives, and their sexual practices are utterly unfulfilling.  It's like a straight Boys in the Band.

The Ice Storm was based on a novel by Rick Moody (apt name!)

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