Owen Gleiberman
September 24, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Age of Innocence

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
performer
Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Geraldine Chaplin, Mary Beth Hurt, Robert Sean Leonard, Jonathan Pryce, Alexis Smith, Joanne Woodward
director
Martin Scorsese
author
Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese
genre
Drama, Romance

We gave it a B+

THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (PG-13) In Martin Scorsese’s luxuriantly subtle adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel, the characters almost never say what they’re thinking. Instead, they allude to it-playfully, elliptically, maliciously, in language contrived not to seem the least bit ”unpleasant.” The hero, Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), is a proper young lawyer in 1870s New York who is drawn, with a primal romantic fervor, to his fiancee’s cousin (Michelle Pfeiffer), a free-spirited American now fleeing her marriage to a European nobleman. Yet her divorce would be such a scandal, and Archer is so ruled by convention, that their love is an impossibility. Up through its first half, The Age of Innocence is a masterfully orchestrated tale of romantic yearning. As Day-Lewis and Pfeiffer separate, however, reuniting for brief * (platonic) liaisons, the film grows both scattered and distant. By the end, we grasp Archer’s tragedy, but in our heads rather than our hearts. B+ ( 188, Sept. 17) -OG

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