18198

The Age of Innocence

1993 Drama

In Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel, romance between an upper-class gentleman and an ostracized lady is doomed by 19th century New York society. Shortly after his engagement to blandly genteel May Welland (Winona Ryder), Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is reacquainted with May's scandalous cousin Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). As the head of an esteemed family, Archer initially uses his standing to try to rehabilitate Ellen's reputation, but he finds himself increasingly drawn to her disregard for the codes of New York manners. Bound by ingrained society mores and his peers' insinuations, Newland tries to dodge his growing passion by rushing his marriage to May, but he cannot keep himself from confessing his love to Ellen. Recognizing that Newland could never abandon his sense of honor and be happy, Ellen pushes Newland to May and leaves town. The marriage proceeds as dictated, but when Newland unexpectedly sees Ellen again, he yearns for the affair to come to fruition. However, he underestimates not only what May knows but also her ability to uphold the rules of propriety. Sumptuously shot by Michael Ballhaus, the film offers meticulously designed costumes and settings that evoke a culture as seductively beautiful in its surfaces as it is stifling in its rituals. Unspoken emotions are expressed through such details as yellow roses or a clipped cigar, a fade to red or a single camera move. Using Wharton's original prose to comment on the setting's hypocrisies, Joanne Woodward's voiceover narration suggests how much decisive power is buried beneath dainty femininity. The Age of Innocence received five Oscar nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Ryder and Best Screenplay for Scorsese and Jay Cocks, and a win for Best Costumes. Although The Age of Innocence seemed like a departure from Scorsese's prior work, Newland is as much at the mercy of his circle's Byzantine structure (and his own conscience) as are Scorsese's more familiar mobsters; Newland's persecutors just wear white tie and tails. more..

Director: Martin Scorsese

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder,Richard E. Grant, Alec McCowen

Reviews

  • I have seen love scenes in which naked bodies thrash in sweaty passion, but I have rarely seen them more passionate than in this movie, where everyone is wrapped in layers of Victorian repression.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    27 April 2013

  • Best "performances,'' however, are given by the movie's almost agonizingly beautiful historical settings -- luxurious households, rich architecture, furnishings, ornaments, draperies, fineries and such are often more captivating than the hushed tones of the lovers.

    Peter Stack - The San Francisco Chronicle

    27 April 2013

  • After watching Pfeiffer and Day-Lewis submerge molten 19th-century sparks here, it is now conceivable that Scorsese could make compelling cinema out of "Three Blind Mice."

    Mike Clark - USA Today

    27 April 2013

  • A magnificent movie.

    Julie Salamon - The Wall Street Journal

    27 April 2013

  • A great, velvety, beautiful anachronism. It's a movie almost drunk on romance, literature and cinema, a splendid period picture that keeps rashly breaking rules and boundaries

    Michael Wilmington - The Chicago Tribune

    27 April 2013

Awards

  • Best Costume Design

    Academy Awards (1994)

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role

    BAFTA Awards (1994)

  • Best American Film (Bedste amerikanske film)

    Bodil Awards (1994)

  • Michael Ballhaus

    Camerimage (1993)

     
  • Best Actor

    Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (1994)