The Age of Innocence

Saul Bass TitlesFlowers sensually erupt into bloom in the opening title sequence of The Age of Innocence, exploding with a passion and intensity strictly forbidden in the era the film depicts. The time and place is the New York high society of the 1870s, as beautifully described by Edith Wharton in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Ellen and NewlandNewland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), is a wealthy New York lawyer, engaged to May Welland (Winona Ryder) a prim and proper young lady, of seemingly unreproachable repute. Their world appears picture perfect, until it’s clouded by the appearance of May’s cousin, the exotic Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has recently left Europe and her philandering husband to return to New York. While handling her divorce proceedings Newland develops an irresistible attraction to Ellen, and before long they are locked in a passion that is deadly in the social circles they move in.
Ellen at the DockThe Age of Innocence is a beautiful period piece, but above all else, it is an actors’ film. Winona Ryder excels playing a young woman who isn’t as naive as she appears; and the chemistry between Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis is as searing as the flames of the roaring fires that are featured over and over again throughout the film.
newland-and-the-countessDaniel and Michelle are a feast for the eyes, and the scenes between these forbidden lovers are remarkable for the gamut of emotions they share. Simple acts, such as the removal of a glove and a kiss on the neck are sexier and more romantic than any graphic, but passionless, love scene. The coiled, barely constrained passion generated by Newland and Ellen touches a nerve, and their few intimate moments together leave me aching for the future they’ll never share. Chaste hand holding and stolen kisses have never been so sexy!

 

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “The Age of Innocence

  1. What a great piece of writing. I agree that subtly suggesting sex can be so much more effective than actually showing it. The Age of Innocence benefits from the forbidden love shared between Newland and Ellen, that scene when he removes her glove is so passionate.

  2. Nice piece on a very subtle work by the usually flamboyant Martin Scorsese. You really captured the movie’s charms. Thanks so much for contributing to the blogathon.

  3. KG

    “Simple acts, such as the removal of a glove and a kiss on the neck are sexier and more romantic than any graphic, but passionless, love scene” – I totally agree.

  4. RB

    Would you believe i’ve not seen this, of course that will have to be rectified ASAP. Nicely written piece by the way. I’ve just returned from a week off that was a holiday in the beginning and nightmare at the end (cancelled flight, lost luggage) so this article is a welcome diversion.

    • Welcome back!
      I’ve been bitten by the blogathon bug recently, and was delighted to feature The Age of Innocence. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled when you watch it.

      I am sorry to hear about your travel problems. I hope it didn’t spoil the memories of the good times you had. I’m going away myself next week, fingers crossed I don’t suffer any similar trouble!

  5. If one has ever gone a long time without physical contact, the smallest of intimate gestures can be terribly powerful. I have no doubt forbidden and unfulfilled ones can be just as erotic. When I started dating my wife I used to just enjoy holding her hand. Holding the hand of someone that I loved fulfilled me in a way empty moments of passion had not. Just goes to show it’s all going on in the mind more than lower parts. 😉

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