It is 1973. New Canaan, Connecticut is a prototypical 'bedroom'; community. Modern homes, clean, quiet streets and plenty of greenspace lend an air of contentment to the setting. However, behind the doors of these homes discontent and ennui are thriving.
'…affluent Americans increasingly clustered in suburban areas, where jobs for women were limited and domestic help was in short supply. Husbands were away from home longer because they had to commute to work, leaving the wives to bear the complete responsibility for the family…The American dream of affluence in a natural, bucolic setting away from urban squalor often made it impossible for women to be anything other than housewives and mothers.'; i.
The Ice Storm focuses on two families, the Hoods and the Carvers. Ben Hood, (Kevin Kline), is the aptly-named, self-absorbed patriarch of his family moving through life believing all that matters is what he sees in front of him; his wife, Elena (Joan Allen) is his quietly despairing mate and mother of Paul (Tobey Maguire) and Wendy (Christina Ricci). Jim Carver (Jamey Sheridan) is an enterprising man, who is seldom home long enough to attend to the needs of his wife Jane (Sigourney Weaver) and their two sons Mike (Elijah Wood) and Sandy (Adam Hann-Byrd). These families are linked by relationships, superficially neighborly, but in fact more visceral than they are prepared to admit to even themselves. It takes an outside force, the ice storm, to force them to come to grips with the realities of their lives, both individually and as families.
'The majority of the past and present studies of martial discontent decisively show that non-working married women are much more prone to anxiety, depression, and mental breakdowns than married men, married working women, or single women.'; ii.
Elena Hood and Jane Carver are stereotypical suburban wives. Jane is portrayed as a sexual person, her first three appearances show her cleaning spilt wine from Ben Hood's crotch, the next two in bed. She dresses provocatively, in fur, boots, and bangles, her long hair flowing about her shoulders. Elena is shown as a domestic, spending most of the film in the kitchen. Though she is a beautiful, vivacious woman, she locks her emotions away beneath her suburban spousal exterior. She is the prototypical housewife. Both women have husba...
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...eir lives learning them. During the Depression and World War II, 'women's work'; became much more than tasks performed at home. The 'go where you want to go, do what you want to do'; mantra of the '60s showed women who felt there was more to life than domesticity that their urge to be 'of the world'; was a viable goal. They wanted, rightly, to be included in the power structure. The obstacle to this end was the existing male-dominated power elite. Men, who through upbringing and experience believed that their position of control was pre-ordained, were too busy convincing themselves and each other of their rectitude to listen to what women wanted. Wendy Carver is a product of all this, a girl blossoming into womanhood, and a person with strong opinions to express. She, in many ways, defines the burgeoning power women felt in their grasp in 1973. They yearned to be part of the great decision-making processes affecting their world. Their perspective, they knew, was vital to making the necessary changes to the 'boys' club'; mentality that had bred the wars, embargos and political chicanery that plagued America in the early 70s. The world was changing, and it was time to talk about it.