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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 31 March 2014
this is a sumptuous film in look, acting and sound. A wonderful adaptation of Edith Wharton's book. The performances by all the cast..a joy to watch. catch a younger day- lewis in his romantic era of roles. A true matinee idol of the old days. saw it at the cinema first time, it's struck me with the same admiration on the small screen!
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on 23 December 2013
I bought this DVD because I had read the book and found it quite difficult in places especially the language given that it is set in the 1870's New York.However, I enjoyed the film and to my surprise it stuck to the story even down to the same ending which is quite a surprise so, yes, a good film and having read the book I was probably able to understand it better. Not sure if I would have found it as good if I hadn't read the book first though. The acting was good though the character of May Welland I thought could have been better cast (she wasn't how I had imagined her)
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on 18 April 2012
(the film)Martin Scorsese, one of the great directors of our time, directs Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder in a brilliant adaptation of Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. A ravishing romance about three wealthy New Yorkers caught in a tragic love triangle, The Age Of Innocence chronicles the grandeur and hypocrisy of high society in the 1880's. Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is an upstanding lawyer who secretly longs for a more passionate life. Engaged to the lovely but ordinary socialite May Welland (Winona Ryder), Newland resigns himself to a life of quiet complacency. But when May's unconventional cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) returns to New York amid social and sexual scandal, Newland becomes captivated by her mysterious authority and outstanding beauty. Now he must choose between May and the world he knows, and Ellen and the world he dreams of having. A spellbinding portrait of hidden romance and regret..
What Can I SAY?
Edith Wharton's beautifully written commentary on the arcane and restrictive societal structures of 1870's New York society and the impossible love affair that becomes it's victim is brought to the screen by Martin Scorcese.

As a fascinating depiction of the era it adheres well to the book, showing us a wealthy system of narrow conformity and restriction, where appearances of proprietary
are all and personal desires sublimated to them totally.
Into this develops a love story between Newland Archer, his traditional bride May Welland and the exotic Countess Olenska, whose unconformity stirs Newlands own suppressed rebelliousness. But where will their feelings take them?
It's a visually beautiful film as well, sumptuously shot and filled with detail, and the entire film is an engaging romantic drama.
"The Age of Innocence" is a strong film that dominates because of Scorsese's outstanding direction
", Scorsese tackles something totally different from what he had previously worked on.The incredible subtlety use of images and music The film is a fine accomplishment For a movie about a society of submerged passion and surface calm, "The Age of Innocence" packs an extraordinarily powerful emotional punch .
As for the acting, the entire cast is simply perfect Scorsese's gets Spectacular performances from Daniel Day-Lewis plays Newland Archer with strong conviction and virtue.
Michelle Pfeiffer., What a beautiful woman, what an amazing actress.she fully embrace the period in manner and behaviour and really delivers in this film with excellent performance.and Winona Ryder is equally strong as Newland's fiancee, May, who hides a controlling, manipulative nature behind a veil of sweetness and naivete
The Age Of Innocence is magnificent and a timeless masterpiece and An exquisite film interwoven with intrigue, suspicion, guilt and passion.
and not only that but also a perfect translation of a great novel into great cinema..
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It was a glittering, sumptuous time when hypocrisy was expected, discreet infidelity tolerated, and unconventionality ostracized.

That is the Gilded Age, and nobody knew its hypocrises better than Edith Wharton. And while you wouldn't expect Martin Scorsese to be able to pull off an adaptation of her novel "The Age of Innocence," this movie is a trip back in time to the stuffy upper crust of "old New York," taking us through one respectable man's hopeless love affair with a beautiful woman -- and the life he isn't brave enough to have.

Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), of a wealthy old New York family, has become engaged to pretty, naive May Welland (Winona Ryder). But as he tries to get their wedding date moved up, he becomes acquainted with May's exotic cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has dumped her cheating husband.

At first the two are just friends, but after Newland marries May, the attraction to the mysterious Countess and her free, unconventional life becomes even stronger, but he's still mired in a 100% conventional marriage, job and life. Will he become an outcast and go away with the beautiful countess, or will he stick with May and the safe, dull life that he has condemned in others?

Yeah, I kind of blinked when I found out that the subtle, bittersweet Wharton novel set in a gilded upper-crust New York... was being directed by the guy who also did "Raging Bull" and "The Gangs of New York." But fortunately Scorses sticks closely to the original novel -- we even have an omniscient narrator who quotes directly from Wharton's book as she describes New York society.

He preserves Wharton's portrayal of New York in the 1870s -- opulent, cultured, pleasant, yet so tied up in tradition that few people in it are able to really open up and live. It's a haze of ballrooms, gardens, engagements, and careful social rituals that absolutely MUST be followed, even if they have no meaning.

And he delicately brings out the powerful half-hidden emotions that the story revolves around. One great example: a sexy carriage ride where Newland slowly unbuttons Ellen's glove and gently kisses her pale wrist -- it's sensual and erotic without being explicit.

Day-Lewis gives the awesome performance you would expect -- his Newland is stiff and repressed, and nowhere near as awesomely unconventional as he thinks himself to be. Pfeiffer and Ryder don't physically look like May and Ellen, but they give excellent performances: Ryder plays a seemingly innocent, naive young woman who shows hints that she's a lot smarter than Newland thinks, while Pfeiffer plays a more worldly noblewoman who craves love and kindness.

"The Age of Innocence" is an exquisite painting of 19th-century New York's upper crust -- the hypocrisy, the beauty, and the sorrow. If only Scorsese would make more movies like this.
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on 11 June 2004
Imagine living in a world where life is governed by intricate rituals; a world "balanced so precariously that its harmony [can] be shattered by a whisper" (Wharton); a world ruled by self-declared experts on form, propriety and family history - read: scandal -; where everything is labeled and yet, people are not; where in order not to disturb society's smooth surface nothing is ever expressed or even thought of directly, and where communication occurs almost exclusively by way of symbols, which are unknown to the outsider and, like any secret code, by their very encryption guarantee his or her permanent exclusion.
Such, in faithful imitation of Victorian England, was the society of late 19th century upper class New York. Into this society returns, after having grown up and lived all her adult life in Europe, American-born Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), after leaving a cruel and uncaring husband. She already causes scandal by the mere manner of her return; but not knowing the secret rituals of the society she has entered, she quickly brings herself further into disrepute by receiving an unmarried man, by being seen in the company of a man only tolerated by virtue of his financial success and his marriage to the daughter of one of this society's most respected families, by arriving late to a dinner in which she has expressly been included to rectify a prior general snub, by leaving a drawing room conversation to instead join a gentleman sitting by himself - and worst of all, by openly contemplating divorce, which will most certainly open up a whole Pandora's box of "oddities" and "unpleasantness": the strongest terms ever used to express moral disapproval in this particular social context. Soon Ellen, who hasn't seen such facades even in her husband's household, finds herself isolated and, wondering whether noone is ever interested in the truth, complains bitterly that "[t]he real loneliness here is living among all these kind people who only ask you to pretend."
Ellen finds a kindred soul in attorney Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), her cousin May Welland's (Winona Ryder's) fiance, who secretly toys with a more liberal stance, while outwardly endorsing the value system of the society he lives in. Newland and Ellen fall in love - although not before he has advised her, on his employer's and May and Ellen's family's mandate, not to pursue her plans of divorce. As a result, Ellen becomes unreachable to him, and he flees into accelerating his wedding plans with May, who before he met Ellen in his eyes stood for everything that was good and noble about their society, whereas now he begins to see her as a shell whose interior he is reluctant to explore for fear of finding merely a kind of serene emptiness there; a woman whose seemingly dull, passive innocence grinds down every bit of roughness he wants to maintain about himself and who, as he realizes even before marrying her, will likely bury him alive under his own future. Then his passion for Ellen is rekindled by a meeting a year and a half after his wedding, and an emotional conflict they could hardly bear when he was not yet married escalates even further. And only when it is too late for all three of them he finds out that his wife had far more insight (and almost ruthless cleverness) than he had ever credited her with.
Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize and the first work of fiction written by a woman to be awarded that distinction, "The Age of Innocence" is one of Edith Wharton's most enduringly popular novels; the crown jewel among her subtly satirical descriptions of New York upper class society. Martin Scorsese reportedly lobbied hard to bring the novel to the screen under his direction; and what at first looks like an odd match for the director of "Goodfellas," "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver" turns out to be a masterpiece of understanding of the intricate workings of this world; a visual feast splendidly realized by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and production and costume designers Dante Ferretti and (Oscar-winning) Gabriella Pescucci; reminiscent of a period tableau, where a dinner table's immaculate symmetry expresses society's outwardly perfect facade, a person's character is mirrored in the paintings they own, their house's interior decoration, the way they dress and the flowers they receive, and where, like in the novel, the protagonists' relationships are choreographed to coincide with the pivotal moments of the stage performances they attend, such as Charles Gounod's opera "Faust" and Dion Boucicault's play "The Shaughraun;" a rare feat of psychological insight into the novel's every character, from the three flawlessly portrayed principals (of whom only Winona Ryder won a Golden Globe and a National Board of Review Award, although all three of them would have been equally deserving) to the just as critical supporting roles, played by an all-star cast including Miriam Margolyes, who earned a BAFTA Award for her portrayal of unconventional society matriarch (nay, dowager-empress) Mrs. Manson Mingott, Richard E. Grant ("form" expert Larry Lefferts), Alec McCowen (scandalmonger Sillerton Jackson), Stuart Wilson and Mary Beth Hurt (disreputable financier Julius Beaufort and his wife Regina), Geraldine Chaplin (May's mother), Sian Phillips (Newland's mother), Michael Gough and Alexis Smith (society doyens Henry and Louisa van der Luyden), Robert Sean Leonard (Newland and May's son Ted), Jonathan Pryce (Olenski's secretary Riviere) and Norman Lloyd (Newland's senior law partner Letterblair).
Scorsese's movie is sometimes criticized for its use of a narrator (Joanne Woodward). But Woodward's voiceovers not only capture Wharton's subtly ironic tone to absolute perfection; her narration also provides a gentle frame to a story which could easily become fractured otherwise; or in the alternative, would have to include countless scenes merely to establish a certain atmosphere and social context without significantly advancing the storyline. On the whole, this is an all-around exceptional production, remarkably faithful to the literary original, and absolutely on par with the best of Scorsese's other works.
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on 29 January 2013
I watched Scorsese's The Age of Innocence again, after many years.

The quality of the actors may have escaped me before. I remember finding Day-Lewis' acting and character far too languid and exasperatingly soft-spoken for instance. Having examined the film closely this time, I have found that both Day-Lewis and Pfeiffer are in fact breathtaking. Day- Lewis' character is meek only on the outside; on his face, he lets you glimpse into the storm and the rebellion that are raging inside. Pfeiffer's Countess Olenska is vivid and charming, at times woeful. In those incredible eyes of hers - made of glass, tinged with blood sometimes - and under her smile, there is struggle, vulnerability and abnegation. When you watch this film, you cannot be knitting or snacking, you should not leave the actors out of your sight for a second or you will miss the "action". The film is like a bow that is being subtly stretched and stretched to its utter limit and never released.

The story is wonderful from a writer's point of view, awful from a human perspective.

Edith Wharton is the negative image of Jane Austen. She studies 19th century American high society with the same scrutiny and mercilessness as Austen observes the ridicules of the Regency landed gentry. But Austen is infinitely pleasing and funny, Wharton's characters are tormented, desperate, trapped, their lives wasted. Your heart breaks.

I come to the point I really wanted to make. Scorsese's film is flawed. The incredible acting, Wharton's story, the costumes, the music and the director's unquestionable skills result in a film that is utterly compelling, but a disaster... of sorts.

First of all, there is the awful narration. Yes, the words are beautifully written. Of course they are, they belong to Edith Wharton. But they are a nuisance in the context of the film, like a mosquito buzzing in your ear, or unwanted background music. Why does a director of this caliber resort to such a clumsy method to inform the audience?

Secondly, Scorsese's virtuosity gets in the way of the story. He is too present as a director. What works wonderfully well in his other films often appears superfluous or downright monstrous here. Not a single frame is shot without the director's ostentatious signature on it. Everything is filmed flamboyantly, stylishly.

The lavish camera work is trying to match point by point the sumptuous nature of the story, the magnificent costumes, the opera house, the forbidden and exacerbated feelings, the muted scandals. It becomes a character of its own, a distracting, overwhelming creature. In this story of restraint, the camera is too loud.

The BBC makes better period adaptations, they seem to have worked out that the best make-up is the one you cannot see. With works by Austen and Wharton, you do not have to muster all your directorial sorcery, the stories are so exquisitely written that, once you have got your team of writers, actors, hairdressers etc, you just have to let the plots unfold. They take care of themselves.

What a strange period drama Scorsese has given us. A riveting failure. A beautiful disaster. Like the lives of Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska.
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on 3 April 2014
Wonderful characters, poignant story showing the limitations of late 19th century life in old New York. If you liked Howards End you would probably like this
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on 1 October 2014
This was one of the best novels I have ever read, followed up by watching the excellent film on DVD with Daniel Day Lewis. Highly recommended. JW
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on 18 July 2014
Superb film which ages really well, one of Martin Scorsese's must underrated movies with great acting and costumes as a period film.
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on 11 February 2015
Beautiful DVD that tells the story of the book elegantly and does not reinterpret things too much. Perfect acting.
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