A young lawyer falls in love with his fiancée's
cousin, a countess on the verge of divorce.
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Richard E. Grant, Stuart Wilson, Geraldine Chaplin,
Miriam Margolyes, Mary Beth Hurt
Remake of 1924's The Age of Innocence
and 1934's The Age of Innocence
Based on the novel by Edith Wharton
Oscar Wins - Best Costume Design
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actress (Winona Ryder),
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Original Score (Elmer Bernstein)
I had a feeling I wasn't going to be the biggest fan of The Age of Innocence. Turns out I was right. It's the same problem that Howards End had for me. It's just really, really boring. The narrative gets lost in mindless dialogue about situations that we, as the audience, know nothing about. Unfortunately, this time, even the performances are a let down. Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the most charismatic performers of all time, is wooden and unlikable, delivering his lines with all the vigor of a dying turtle. Michelle Pfeiffer is doing her best, and Winona Ryder is undeserving of an Oscar nomination. It's no surprise the film was a box office dud, though I don't understand what the critics saw in it.
Day-Lewis is Newland Archer, a young lawyer who is engaged to the irritating and snobby May Welland (Ryder). He's always had a thing for Countess Ellen Olenska (Pfeiffer), who is separated from her husband. Newland and Ellen start a secret affair, though I'm pretty sure May knew the whole time. Despite loving Ellen, Newland marries May because of some high society bullshit, and when he wises up and tries to leave her anyway, May informs him that she's pregnant. So, Newland stays in an unhappy marriage and raises some kids. That's the whole movie. It takes nearly two and a half hours to tell a story that could probably be wrapped up in the length of a Downton Abbey episode.
The Age of Innocence is a dull affair from beginning to end. All three of our usually reliable leads are phoning it in, and Scorsese's expert direction is nowhere to be seen. The editing is choppy and confusing, the dialogue is sleep-inducing, and the stakes couldn't be lower. Rich people problems. I simply don't care for them. I give this film points for pageantry and production design.