Age of Innocence
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Such, in faithful imitation of Victorian England, was the society of late 19th century upper class New York. Into this society returns, after having grown up and lived all her adult life in Europe, American-born Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), after leaving a cruel and uncaring husband. She already causes scandal by the mere manner of her return; but not knowing the secret rituals of the society she has entered, she quickly brings herself further into disrepute by receiving an unmarried man, by being seen in the company of a man only tolerated by virtue of his financial success and his marriage to the daughter of one of this society's most respected families, by arriving late to a dinner in which she has expressly been included to rectify a prior general snub, by leaving a drawing room conversation to instead join a gentleman sitting by himself - and worst of all, by openly contemplating divorce, which will most certainly open up a whole Pandora's box of "oddities" and "unpleasantness": the strongest terms ever used to express moral disapproval in this particular social context.Read more ›
Daniel-Day Lewis is cast as Newland Archer, the upper class young man in conflict between social convention and desire. Michelle Pfieffer plays the Countess Ellen Olenska, who has already defied convention by marrying a European and is further defying convention by leaving her husband and returning to New York. However, in spite of his attraction to the countess, Newland Archer marries the beautiful but seemingly simple May Welland, played by Wynona Ryder, whose outstanding performance won her an academy award nomination.
The film is woven together by the excellent off-screen narration by Joanne Woodward, reading excerpts from the book describing the nuances of social behavior and unspoken thoughts of the characters. The entire package comes across as a small masterpiece. I loved the book, but there is nothing like actually seeing the ballrooms, the gowns, the dinnerware and the food. There is nothing like seeing how very subtle gestures of a glance, a raised eyebrow or a change in tone of voice can have so much meaning. And there is one scene in which Newland Archer struggles with the buttons of the Countess's glove that captures an erotic sensuality in a very special way.
However, a book can be read over many days or weeks. It can be put down and thought about, the characters carried in the mind's eyes for a while. The subtleties and nuances have time to live with the reader. A film, however, must be watched all at once.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I consider this a beautifully done classic. Also gives a look at the mores of that eraPublished 2 hours ago by Margaret Morse
One of the best Scorsese films ever made, IMHO, which happens to be his own opinion. I've read the quote where he says this in one of his favorite of his own films. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Daisy's mum
Exquisite elegance and subtle drama in an era long gone with its society complexities.Published 24 days ago by Biserka