Society scion Newland Archer is engaged to May Welland, but his well-ordered life is upset when he meets May's unconventional cousin, the Countess Olenska. At first, Newland becomes a defender of the Countess, whose separation from her abusive husband makes her a social outcast in the restrictive high society of late-19th Century New York, but he finds in her a companion spirit and they fall in love. Written by
Marg Baskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Underrated masterpiece from the top director of our times.
For those who wonder what is Mr. Scorsese looking for in a film like "The Age of Innocence", (probably more suitable to a director such as James Ivory), the man himself gives the answer: "This film deals with the same matters that can be found in my work in the last 25 years. There is guilt, desire, obsessed passion and the weakness to satisfy that passion".
The story takes place in New York, around 1880. Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) must choose between his current fiancee May Welland (Winona Ryder) and her cousin who has just arrived from Poland and is recently divorced, Helen Ollenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). May is the symbol of a world he's familiar with, and Helen represents the world he's dreaming of.
Living in a conservative world full of compromises, Newland is as much trapped by his social circle as the Italian-American heroes of Mean Streets and GoodFellas. However, the Mafia here is called New York aristocracy and kills with words, with a gesture or with a look of contempt and rejection, instead of using guns. Scorsese fans who expect to see psychotic characters, violence or De Niro-style performances, will be disappointed. Everything in this movie is based on the observation and recording of the social behaviour codes, the unexpressed feelings and of things which are not not said but implied. Scorsese portrayed with absolute preciseness, almost paragraph to paragraph, Edith Wharton's classic novel. However, he managed to give the film his own unique personal view, proving his gigantic talent and that he's capable of creating masterpieces, whatever the heroes, the story or the genre of the film. Winona Ryder should definitely have won the Oscar for her wonderful performance, but Lewis and Pfeiffer are marvellous as well. What's left to say? The Age of Innocence is an un-excusably underrated all time classic.
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