The House of Mirth Reviews
Great line. A little close to the bone, but great.
There are some terrific performances here by some well-known and some not-so-well-known actors, but I dare you to try and take your eyes off of Gillian Anderson. Awe-inspiring.
[font=Century Gothic][color=#a0522d]"The House of Mirth" is that rare movie that is almost singly undone by its casting. Gillian Anderson is completely out of her league playing such a complex character as Lily Bart, who while not completely sympathetic, is much more interesting than anybody else in the movie. Dan Aykroyd and Eric Stoltz are much too lightweight to be in such a serious literary endeavor. Laura Linney steals the movie whenever she is on screen and would have made a fascinating Lily Bart. Otherwise, the movie is quite beautiful to look at and is better than "The Age of Innocence", the other Edith Wharton adaptation I have seen. [/color][/font]
His stylistic tendencies are here (his roaming camera signaling major shifts through transitionary fade-ins that are absolutely gorgeous, his deliberate pace allowing for immense emotional investment, his eye for slightly-theatrical detail resulting in an impeccable production), as are the stellar performances he regularly draws out of his actors. Anderson's turn as Lily Bart is heartbreaking to the point that it almost certainly deserved an Oscar (but went unrecognized entirely) and the rest of the cast more than hold their own. But what's most important is its commitment to its central tragedy, never pulling punches, quietly posturing its elegant verbal sparring matches so as to seem minor when in actuality they hold grave consequences. This subtlety extends to its social commentary, which hints at the systematic oppression of women without saying anything outright, a strategy also implemented in regards to its powerful statement about society's tendency to reward selfishness and harshly punish righteous choices.
The House of Mirth is a very old-fashioned, very deliberate film practically designed to makes an audience quaintly clutch their pearls in unison, but this doesn't take away from its near-perfect construction, its powerful emotional impact, and its deeply cynical but entirely honest message about the cruelty of life. The clock ticks on for all of us, until it doesn't; in a genre that so often choses tidy endings involving weddings and funerals, this film stands out for its dedication to such an unsavory central sentiment.
One star for the pacing. One star for the visuals. ALL those clothes on a yacht! Can you imagine? Why go sailing?? geez