By Owen Gleiberman
September 24, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT
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  • Movie
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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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