This is a detailed trip through middle-class confusion in 1970s Connecticut, beautifully adapted from Rick Moody's highly-regarded novel.
Kevin Kline is Ben Hood, the father who is trying but doesn't have a clue, like all around him in an America that has broken morally and spiritually adrift. His carefully coiffed wife Elena (Allen) looks like a Stepford robot but is getting itchy for some liberated self-realisation. His neighbour Janey (Weaver) is the swinger next door who makes her waterbed freely available to him while denying him any warmth that may lurk beneath her cold, brittle indifference.
Simultaneously, Ben and Elena's teenaged son (Tobey Maguire), en route from prep school for the Thanksgiving holiday, is having a Holden Caulfield weekend and pubescent daughter (Ricci) is playing "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" with the anxious, oddball boys next door (Elijah Wood and Adam Hann-Byrd).
Lee's vision of an emotionally drained suburban America hopelessly mired in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal and ineffectually coping with wife-swapping and barbiturates, confirms the 70s as the most excruciating style decade of the century, the totally tragic duds emblematic of the mass inability to get a grip.
The film scores insights both in sharply observed social satire and poignantly universal details of sexual longing in the interwoven tales of parental mid-life crises and teen angst. But Lee's most impressive achievement is his almost imperceptible shift from sex farce to achingly funny youth drama to profound tragedy and despair as the approaching winter freeze of the title mirrors the family's emotional chill and the devastation it brings. The dazzling ensemble perfectly captures every nuance in one of the finest acting showcases you could hope for. Well worth seeing.