The second film in Terence Davies's autobiographical series ('Trilogy', 'The Long Day Closes') is an impressionistic view of a working-class family in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool, based on ... See full summary »
Davies' film is divided into three segments enitled "Children", "Madonna and Child", and "Death and Transfiguartion". The segments tell the life of Robert Tucker. The first segment looks at... See full summary »
While on a train, a teenage boy thinks about his life and the flamboyant aunt whose friendship acted as an emotional shield from his troubled family. This film evokes the haunting quality ... See full summary »
The Long Day Closes is the story of eleven-year-old "Bud." A sad and lonely boy, Bud struggles through his days. With cinema as his main source of solace, he haunts the local movie-house. ... See full summary »
Donal is a 14-year old who develops a passion for greyhound racing. He works in a kennel, which is owned by Good Joe. Good Joe promises Donal ownership of Donal's favorite greyhound, The ... See full summary »
In sepia tones, the film moves back and forth among three periods in Robert Tucker's life: he's an old man, near death, in a nursing home at Christmas time; he's in middle age caring for ... See full summary »
Terence Davies' The House of Mirth is a tragic love story set against a background of wealth and social hypocrisy in turn of the century New York. Lily Bart is a ravishing socialite at the height of her success who quickly discovers the precariousness of her position when her beauty and charm start attracting unwelcome interest and jealousy. Torn between her heart and her head, Lilly always seems to do the right thing at the wrong time. She seeks a wealthy husband and in trying to conform to social expectations, she misses her chance for real love with Lawrence Selden. Written by
Anyone with years of experience making or watching film will recognize virtuoso work by Terence Davies, his cast and crew here. This admittedly languorous film rates ten out of ten for me and ranks close to Fanny and Alexander for its emotional control and depth. Get the DVD! With $8.7 million Terence Davies did what Scorsese could only impersonate with Age of Innocence, and which Merchant and Ivory haven't done for a long time. Davies has created the suffocating, cosseted and unforgiving social milieu of New York and Tuxedo Park circa 1905-07. The sets, the sense of place, the stunning cinematography of Remi Adefarasin (Elizabeth), and most of all Gillian Anderson's virtuoso performance combine with Davies' excruciatingly seductive pacing and scoring cues to track in loving detail the missed opportunities and downfall of Lily Bart. Every line Wharton used to describe Lily's inner life is there in Anderson's face and in Davies screenplay and direction. If the film feels stiff to younger viewers, it's because it's deadly accurate socially. That gilded society WAS stiff, unforgiving and precoccupied with keeping out the nouveau riche. Anyone who has tried to gain entry to a social register or the DAR might have a easy time understanding the upper class world of New York in 1905.
I must commend Davies for the risky choices he made in casting Eric Stoltz as Lawrence Selden and Dan Ackroyd as Gus Trenor. Ackroyd's boisterous girth works here because Gus Trenor is both gatekeeper and gatecrasher of this social circle. He and his wife are major forces in deciding who's in and out. Ackroyd is not the deepest actor, but neither is Gus Trenor deep. In fact he's to great degree, a backslapping facade. Despite his wealth and high standing, Trenor is pragmatic and doesn't turn his nose down at courting filthy-rich newcomers desiring social elevation - men like Sim Rosedale (Anthony LaPaglia) - if it means Trenor makes a buck. And yes, Eric Stoltz is not a "convincing" choice for a romantic lead, yet he's perfect for the role of Lawrence Seldon, since Seldon balks repeatedly at being Lily's leading man anyway. The sexual charge and arch, ambivalent fencing between Lily and Lawrence is intensified by something indescribable that happens between Stoltz and Anderson in every scene played between them. I can't figure out why it works, except that these two fine actors "found each other". Stoltz's tenor crispness - his not quite boy, not quite man-ness - adds to his character's elusiveness, cowardice and vulnerability. Finally, Laura Linney is devastating as Lily's reptilian nemesis, Bertha Dorset. For me, she evokes some of Glenn Close's lethal devilishness and charm. It is Lily's sense of propriety, her fine upbringing, that makes her incapable of finishing off Bertha in when she can, and should.
Davies' laser accurate sense of place and character sets House of Mirth apart. He's successfully created the last years of Wharton's treacherous gilded world, when carriages were what fine people still rode and automobiles were considered vulgar. Davies' production designer, art director and set decorator have created sumptuous yet stifling enviroments where Davies and his players can move us back one hundred years into a time we can only imagine and smell when we tour a Vanderbilt Mansion. And he did it without Titanic's budget. It's clear from his commentary that Davies had to repeatedly make do and it sounds like this production was a struggle. All I can say is, limitation is sometimes a fortunate mother. I hope Davies, now 57, will soon be up and running with a new film. I'm suprised to see no new project listed yet. If I were a producer, I'd pounce. This director has the magic. And excuuuse me...! No new projects listed yet for Gillian Anderson?
A short note to the Snatch fans that have dissed this film here: I loved Snatch too, loved it, but where's your freakin' RANGE kiddies? SNATCH and HOUSE OF MIRTH were my TWO FAVORITE films of 2001. Tell ya what. Go back to your videogames and Hollywood spectacles and only comment on classic adult film when you've spent a few more years watching much of the worlds great film literature. If HOM is too slow for you, let your hormones rage for a few more years and come back when you're ready to pay attention to human, not cartoon, reality. Meanwhile, don't drop your smirking, restless, impatient and limited verbiage on films like this one.
41 of 47 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?