The Age of Innocence

Critics Consensus

Equal measures romantic and wistful, Martin Scorsese's elegant adaptation of The Age of Innocence is a triumphant exercise in both stylistic and thematic restraint.



Total Count: 54


Audience Score

User Ratings: 23,859
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Movie Info

A ravishing romance about three wealthy New Yorkers caught in a tragic love triangle, the ironically-titled story chronicles the grandeur and hypocrisy of high society in the 1870s. At the center of the film is Newland Archer (Day-Lewis), an upstanding attorney who secretly longs for a more passionate life. Engaged to the lovely but ordinary socialite May Welland (Ryder), Newland resigns himself to a life of quiet complacency. But when May's unconventional cousin returns to New York amid social and sexual scandal, Newland risks everything for a chance at true love.


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
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
Kevin Sanders
as The Duke
as Dog
W.B. Brydon
as Mr. Urban Dagonet
Cristina Pronzati
as Countess Olenska's Maid
Cindy Katz
as Stage Actress
June Squibb
as Mingott Maid
Mac Orange
as Archer Maid
Thomas Gibson
as Stage Actor
Thomas Barbour
as Archer Guest
Patricia Dunnock
as Mary Archer
Martin Scorsese
as Photographer
Joanne Woodward
as Narrator, the narrator
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Critic Reviews for The Age of Innocence

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (9)

  • A consistent spellbinder, laying bare its inhabitants' follies and furies with a tender touch and a vigilant quietude that accumulates into a grand force.

    Aug 7, 2018 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 19, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Manages to be both personal and true to its source, though it never quite comes together.

    Feb 1, 2010 | Full Review…
  • An extraordinarily sumptuous piece of filmmaking.

    Sep 22, 2008

    Todd McCarthy

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

    Jul 22, 2006
  • 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.

    Jul 22, 2006 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for The Age of Innocence

  • Sep 11, 2017
    You may have to shrug off your disdain for films about the upper crust of society to watch this one. If you can do that, and if you can patiently allow the story to unfold, you will be rewarded. Director Martin Scorsese is true to Wharton's brilliant novel, and was painstaking in his attention to all of the little details of the time period. The narration by Joanne Woodward is excellent. The forbidden love Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) has for Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) while being engaged to May Welland (Winona Ryder) grows ever so gradually, until it becomes a raging fire. At the same time, there is great restraint here, accurate to the morals of the day, but leaving one with a much deeper feeling of the angst involved as a result. The little signals each person in this love triangle send to one another often have great subtlety, yet it feels just as powerful as if they were yelling or screaming. I confess I didn't think any of the three principal actors delivered a great performance - Day-Lewis is a little too morose, Pfeiffer lacks that teeny touch of wickedness, and Ryder's acting is the most suspect, despite her Oscar nomination. The chemistry between Day-Lewis and Pfeiffer does not seem authentic, but with all of that said, each of them is reasonably good. I think Scorsese was dead on with the tone and this is clearly a labor of love, but I don't think the story needed 139 minutes, and there are some issues with pace (which compound the understated action). On the other hand, he gives us some truly wonderful moments, all leading to an ending that is absolutely brilliant, which, just as with the novel, left me with goosebumps.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2014
    Watched some of this on tv, and I have to say, this might be the most boring film I've ever seen. I was seriously fighting to stay awake. Avoid this film unless you want to watch it at bedtime to help you fall asleep.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 01, 2012
    The Age of Innocence is a dramatic period film that explores some interesting themes. From director Martin Scorsese, comes a tale of high society in New York during the 19th century and the trappings that went along with it. Scorsese assembles an impressive cast that includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder, and there's a good chemistry among the actors that helps the film to connect with the audience and bring them into the story. However, there are issues with the storytelling: it goes on for far too long and gets lost among the minutiae of high society. The Age of Innocence is an intriguing drama with some good performances, but it rambles a bit too much.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 11, 2012
    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 S Super Reviewer

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