The Ice Storm, on general release

Hollywood history isn't exactly short of movies about adults and adolescence. Most are structured around a horribly phoney moment of epiphany, as epitomised by the portentous climactic scene in The Flamingo Kid where the scales suddenly fall from Matt Dillon's eyes and hey, he "understands". James Schamus's screenplay for The Ice Storm bypasses all such synthetic nonsense. True, if your taste stops at fastplotting Ang Lee's quietly devastating "inaction movie" may leave you wanting more. Instead of dealing in the certainties and false climaxes of cheap fiction, it's refreshingly full of doubt as it focuses on a Seventies family fumbling towards mutual understanding. Like Hannah and Her Sisters, it skilfully dovetails and contrasts a diverse group of characters, beautifully played by a cast who never put a foot wrong. As in his early hit, The Wedding Banquet, Ang Lee's masterly control of tone allows this superb film to take you very quietly to the heart of love, pain and the whole damn thing.

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