The Age of Innocence (1993) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Age of Innocence (1993)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Age of Innocence Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

In Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel, romance between an upper-class gentleman and an ostracized lady is doomed by 19th century New York society. Shortly after his engagement to blandly genteel May Welland (Winona Ryder), Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is reacquainted with May's scandalous cousin Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). As the head of an esteemed family, Archer initially uses his standing to try to rehabilitate Ellen's reputation, but he finds himself increasingly drawn to her disregard for the codes of New York manners. Bound by ingrained society mores and his peers' insinuations, Newland tries to dodge his growing passion by rushing his marriage to May, but he cannot keep himself from confessing his love to Ellen. Recognizing that Newland could never abandon his sense of honor and be happy, Ellen pushes Newland to May and leaves town. The marriage proceeds as dictated, but when Newland unexpectedly sees Ellen again, he yearns for the affair to come to fruition. However, he underestimates not only what May knows but also her ability to uphold the rules of propriety. Sumptuously shot by Michael Ballhaus, the film offers meticulously designed costumes and settings that evoke a culture as seductively beautiful in its surfaces as it is stifling in its rituals. Unspoken emotions are expressed through such details as yellow roses or a clipped cigar, a fade to red or a single camera move. Using Wharton's original prose to comment on the setting's hypocrisies, Joanne Woodward's voiceover narration suggests how much decisive power is buried beneath dainty femininity. The Age of Innocence received five Oscar nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Ryder and Best Screenplay for Scorsese and Jay Cocks, and a win for Best Costumes. Although The Age of Innocence seemed like a departure from Scorsese's prior work, Newland is as much at the mercy of his circle's Byzantine structure (and his own conscience) as are Scorsese's more familiar mobsters; Newland's persecutors just wear white tie and tails.more
Rating: PG (for thematic elements and some mild language.)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Martin Scorsese, Jay Cocks
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 6, 2001
Columbia Pictures


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
as Dog
Kevin Sanders
as The Duke
W.B. Brydon
as Mr. Urban Dagonet
Cristina Pronzati
as Countess Olenska's M...
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
Domenica Scorsese
as Katie Blenker
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Age of Innocence

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

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 22, 2008
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 22, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

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

July 22, 2006
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Scorsese's most poignantly moving film.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Age of Innocence


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.

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

Super Reviewer

The Age of Innocence Quotes

– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)

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