It's very odd that I never saw The Age of Innocence before: it came out when I was sixteen, an age at which I'd watch anything new (particularly something new by Martin Scorsese) and particularly something romantic, but most curiously, I adored Michelle Pfieffer (as you'll read in this week's style icon section), she was a kind of childhood idol of mine, strangely enough.
Still, it was not until this weekend that I actually saw the adaptation of Edith Wharton's classic tortured romance thwarted by social codes. With Saul Bass's excellent budding flowers on lace introduction, it was easy for me to settle into the mood.
Pfieffer, I'm happy to report, has almost never looked as radiant and Daniel Day Lewis is absolutely smoldering. Even Noni is cast well (which is rare) as a bright faced, simple women to whom women's emancipation is unfathomable. The rest of the cast is equally perfect and includes some of my favorite character actors like Jonathan Pryce, Richard E. Grant and Sian Phillips (who you might recognize from a far juicier role in the fantastic I, Claudius).
The gentile New York City of the late nineteenth century is impeccably presented by Scorsese and all of its finery. Shot of exterior sets (the mansion by Central Park is mind blowing), interiors (drool over the rarely used ballroom), and food, food food are an opulent feast for the eyes (see a photo essay of all the food in the movie I put together here).
The stifling social codes may be the things of modern women's nightmare, but there's some appeal to the diamond crusted archery brooches, white gloves worn at dinner, petit fours, and drawing rooms stuffed with brocades, gold and paintings of cheetahs.
Despite the long running time, I still found it to be sweepingly romantic, but be wary of watching it with those who are not fans of historical romance; this was one of the few movies Jim and I have disagreed on.