The Age of Innocence | Chicago Reader

The Age of Innocence

Martin Scorsese's ambitious and sumptuous 1993 film version of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel about New York society in the 1870s manages to be both personal and true to its source, though it never quite comes together. Incorporating chunks of Wharton's socially knowing prose in the narration (regally spoken by Joanne Woodward), it tells the story of a young lawyer (Daniel Day-Lewis) who's engaged to marry a debutante (Winona Ryder) but who falls in love with her married cousin (Michelle Pfeiffer), a somewhat disreputable countess, and never succeeds in doing very much about it. As beautifully mounted as this production is, Scorsese has a way of letting the decor take over, so that Wharton's tale of societal constraints comes through only in fits and starts. But it's a noble failure, with plenty of compensations, including a fine secondary cast that includes Geraldine Chaplin, Mary Beth Hurt, Stuart Wilson, Miriam Margolyes, and Norman Lloyd.

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