November, 1973, was the cruelest month. Nixon, the nation's
president, was trying to lie his way out of a major scandal. Seeing
the porn flick, "Deep Throat," had become the chic thing to do. The
sexual revolution had even reached such proper suburban towns as New
Canaan. There two American families try to make sense of a world in
which the old rules of behavior and morality no longer seemed to
apply. The couples are trying to be with it by indulging in
wife-swapping and key parties. Their children, who seem far wiser,
explore their own sexuality. There is such a huge generational gap
that when one absentee father announces "I'm back" his teenage son
responds by saying "You were gone?"
Taiwan filmmaker Ang Lee does a superb job of recapturing this
embarrassing period in the nation's history, right down to the "Brady
Bunch" clothes that transform every actress into a fashion victim.
Sigourney Weaver, in her trampy, Cher-inspired wardrobe, sizzles as a
cheating housewife. Christina Ricci is convincing as the local
Lolita. James Schamus's adaptation of Rick Moody's acerbic novel is
tartly funny. The deep freeze atmosphere succeeds in emphasizing the
emotional frigidity of the characters. However Lee's detached,
documentary-like approach somewhat dilutes the impact of the
inevitable tragic ending.
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