The Age of Innocence (1993)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Though overswamped with authentic period decor (and dishware) in too many scenes, Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence is an adroit, easy-to-follow adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel. Set in the upper circles of New York society in the 1870s, the film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, a proper gentleman who falls in love with demure but fascinating socialite Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). Newland would like to marry her, but he is prevented from doing so: she is in the process of getting a divorce, and as such is socially unacceptable. He takes the somewhat dull May Welland (Winona Ryder) as his consolation bride, all the while hoping for a reunion with Ellen. The affair-by all indications a very chaste one-takes place, but Ellen eventually sends him back to May, who turns out not to be as naïve or easily led as she seems. Scorcese's meticulous production values are complemented by the velvety offscreen narration of Joanne Woodward, whose spirited "presence" helps this very long film move apace. The film won a "best costume design" Academy Award, while screenwriters Scorsese and Jay Cocks and actress Wynona Rider received nominations. See if you can spot Scorsese and his parents in cameo roles-and also watch for that anachronistic pack of breath mints in Michelle Pfeiffer's purse! An earlier, long-unseen version of The Age of Innocence, filmed in 1934 and starring Irene Dunne and John Boles, was restored for TV showings in 1996.
Rating:
PG (for thematic elements and some mild language.)
Genre:
Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Cast

Daniel Day-Lewis
as Newland Archer
Michelle Pfeiffer
as Ellen Olenska
Winona Ryder
as May Welland
Richard E. Grant
as Larry Lefferts
Alec McCowen
as Sillerton Jackson
Geraldine Chaplin
as Mrs. Welland
Mary Beth Hurt
as Regina Beaufort
Stuart Wilson
as Julius Beaufort
Miriam Margolyes
as Mrs. Mingott
Sian Phillips
as Mrs. Archer
Alexis Smith
as Mrs. Van der Luyden
Michael Gough
as Mr. Van der Luyden
Jonathan Pryce
as Riviere
Robert Sean Leonard
as Ted Archer
Carolyn Farina
as Janey Archer
Tracey Ellis
as Gertrude Lefferts
Norman Lloyd
as Mr. Letterblair
Linda Faye Farkas
as Female Opera Singer
Michael Rees Davis
as Male Opera Singer
Terry L. Cook
as Male Opera Singer
Jon Garrison
as Male Opera Singer
Howard Erskine
as Beaufort Guest
John McLoughlin
as Party Guest
Christopher Nilsson
as Party Guest
Kevin Sanders
as The Duke
Zoé
as Dog
W.B. Brydon
as Mr. Urban Dagonet
Cristina Pronzati
as Countess Olenska's Maid
Clement Fowler
as Florist
Cindy Katz
as Stage Actress
June Squibb
as Mingott Maid
Mac Orange
as Archer Maid
Brian Davies
as Philip
Thomas Gibson
as Stage Actor
Thomas Barbour
as Archer Guest
Henry Fehren
as Bishop
Patricia Dunnock
as Mary Archer
Martin Scorsese
as Photographer
Joanne Woodward
as Narrator, the narrator
Domenica Scorsese
as Katie Blenker
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Age of Innocence

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (12)

I don't know any of those [prior] versions, and I wonder how (which means I doubt that) they avoided the snare that Wharton unwittingly set for her adapters, the snare that, for all his gifts, caught Scorsese.

Full Review… | June 19, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Manages to be both personal and true to its source, though it never quite comes together.

Full Review… | February 1, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

An extraordinarily sumptuous piece of filmmaking.

Full Review… | September 21, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Mr. Scorsese has made a big, intelligent movie that functions as if it were a window on a world he had just discovered, and about which he can't wait to spread the news.

Full Review… | July 21, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Spurning Masterpiece Theatre twittiness, Scorsese cuts to the primal passions of Wharton's tale.

July 21, 2006
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Age of Innocence

½

A well-acted, if occasionally boring and long-winded study of 19th century New York and how a young upper-class man (Daniel Day-Lewis) slowly begins to detach himself from his wife (Winona Ryder) in hopes of starting a relationship with her cousin (Michelle Pfeiffer). If not for Day-Lewis's convincing, arresting turn as a man deeply troubled by what he should do and what he truly feels, this movie would probably be lost on me. Instead, it is quite good, in addition to Scorsese's firm direction which includes some original camera tricks to spice up the story every once in a while. It goes on a little too long, and sometimes you question if you should even be caring about these snobby upper-class people. However, the characters are given the proper color and depth they need, in addition to the plot being able to keep the story going in the second half, when you do not know what Day-Lewis's character will decide to do. The end result is a fine film, a minor entry into Scorsese's resume, and one of the few chances audiences around the world get to see the brilliance that is the actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Of course, this film doesn't allow for the usual Scorsese violence, but coming from him, I expected something a little more...intense. The look of this movie is amazing, with its gorgeous cinematography, it's as if you are watching a 2-hour long painting. But, apart from the aesthetic aspect, it also resembles a painting in the fact that nothing happens. Sadly, The Age of Innocence is terribly boring. I never thought I'd see Daniel Day-Lewis in such a plain role, he did what he could with what he was given. Winona Ryder was good in her own, puppy-like way. The film's best was Michelle Pfeiffer. Her performance was flawed, but she was the one who kept your interest alive. Loved the narrator. Martin Scorsese should stick to what he does best: blood.

Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda
Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda

Super Reviewer

I'm okay with the movie because I liked the book. The direction is a bit odd. It seems like Marty Scorsese toned down his usual flashy cool to fit a staid period piece - the quick cuts to the food, the letters read to the camera.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

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