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THE PRICE OF LOVE AND HONOR...,
This review is from: The House Of Mirth [VHS] (VHS Tape)
In this lavish and beautifully costumed period piece based upon Edith Wharton's novel of the same name, Gillian Anderson gives an inspired and luminous performance as Lily Bart, a rising young New York socialite who is ultimately done in by a ruthless friend, deliciously played by Laura Tinney, who cruelly sacrifices Lily to save her own reputation.
The dry repartee in which Lily engages and passes for wit in this bygone era sets the tone for the film. It is a carefully orchestrated show in which marriageable society girls engage in order to snag the wealthiest suitor. While Lily Bart is the cream of the crop, she has the misfortune to have given her heart to a socially acceptable, yet financially constrained, lawyer, Laurence Selden, wonderfully portrayed by Eric Stoltz. Her heart claimed by this most unsuitable of suitors, she dallies, refusing to commit to any others, while her star is still in the ascendant.
Lily finds herself making an unwise financial transaction, which puts her at the mercy of an unscrupulous and smarmy financial investor named Gus Trennor, well played by Dan Akroyd. When he puts Lily in a compromising position in return for the money he now claims that she owes him, she indignantly spurns his advances and incurs his enmity. Meanwhile, her aunt, upon whom Lily is financially dependent, hearing of her financial indiscretion, is appalled and virtually cuts Lily out of her will, leaving her a small determinate sum, rather than making Lily her sole heir as expected.
Meanwhile, her friend, devilishly played by Laura Tinney, is on the verge of having her marital indiscretions made known to her circle of society friends. She throws everyone off the scent by cutting her friend Lily in a most public fashion with all the attendant insinuations from which much may be inferred. This has the net effect of causing Lily to fall totally into social disgrace. Her star is now very much on the descent.
When her aunt dies, and Lily is left virtually penniless, Lily finds herself alone and on a downward spiral, forced to earn her daily bread for the first time in her life. Abandoned by her friends, she despairs, even though she has the means of regaining her former status at her fingertips, would her information not also sully the reputation of her true love, Lawrence Selden, as well as that of the false friend who brought her to this point. To her detriment, she takes the high road of love and honor. Too late, Selden realizes the sacrifice that Lily has made on his behalf.
What happens to Lily and why is an interesting study of human frailties, class consciousness, social status, and honor. This film is a beautifully and richly costumed period piece with bravura performances by the entire cast. Those who are fond of period dramas will surely enjoy this leisurely paced, well orchestrated film.