Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel The Age Of Innocence left me feeling like a fist punched through my ribcage, grabbed my still beating heart, and savagely removed it from my body. I felt so raw I looked up the ending to triple check that it was that wrenching, stumbling upon reviews stating despite the lack of murder, drugs and guns this was Scorsese’s most violent film, I concur.
Taking place in New York City’s 19th century high society, there was little else to do except idle internationally, acquire wealth and viciously gossip. Countess Olenska, played by Michelle Pfieffer, becomes the talk of town upon her return home, seeking a divorce from her husband. You can only imagine what a big deal this was, if divorce were a scarlet letter in the 1980s it was downright profane in the 1800s. Ostracized, her only saving grace is Newland Archer (Daniel Day Lewis), the fiancé to her cousin May Welland (Winona Ryder). Newland defends the Countess when her domestically abusive relationship is the topic of dinner conversation. He goes even further by getting the most powerful family to back the Countess when she is snubbed at her reintroduction to society party, which is attended by no one. Back in the good graces of the upper echelon Olenska feels she can have a new beginning after all.
As the film progresses so does Newland Archer’s and Countess Olenska’s feelings for one another. Completely unaware of the prying eyes (one of my favorite techniques is seeing through the binocular lenses, yeah I’m a film nerd), they are enmeshed in each other. Delusional they believe their affair to be clandestine. Despite sending yellow roses, despite the one-upmanship regarding Olenska’s suitors and Newland’s tendency to drop everything to be where she is, no matter the distance. The acting is so extraordinary that even the kiss of Olenska’s shoe by Newland leaves one gasping, for the passion behind the action, the love, permeates.
When given the chance to follow his hearts desire from May, who is like a wide eyed doe with crocodile teeth, she’s so passively ruthless, he stays. Imprisoned by his peers myopic minded expectations, like everyone else, conformity is an obligation Newland must yield to. And that’s the violent part, to spend your life confined by everyone’s wants and needs, but your own. Of course that desolate last scene takes the brutish cake. Talk about star-crossed lovers, my heart is still broken. Have you seen this film? Via: Starfire_Michael