1993 was a year stacked with fine films. From The Piano and Schindler’s List to Groundhog Day and Jurassic Park. It was a year of unheralded classics. Of The Age of Innocence and Flesh and Bone. It was also the year of the blonde.
Swapping Norah Ephron’s Seattle for Steve Kloves’ West Texas, Meg Ryan gave an indelible performance as a haunting golden-locked woman. Michelle Pfeiffer oozed class, elegance and repressed emotion in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Edith Warton. Gwyneth Paltrow and Winona Ryder excelled in supporting roles, but it’s Ryan’s tears at the end of her film that always get to me. Such skill.
It’s strange though, that The Age of Innocence made a mere 32 million at the box-office, but it’s even more ridiculous when you realise that Flesh and Bone made less than a third of that. Four great actors. Dark-hearted brilliance. How was this movie shrugged off by critics and audiences alike?
Something Flesh and Bone shares with The Age of Innocence is a love between two people that can never be; and there is something heartbreaking about such obviously strong feelings going completely unspoken. It’s a wondrous thing to watch as Dennis Quaid (in Flesh and Bone) and Daniel Day-Lewis (in The Age of Innocence) try to mask the flames consuming their hearts.
Quaid and Meg Ryan draw their characters so well, moments between the two are just gorgeous to watch. Bereft of romantic lighting and luminous costumes they create a chemistry as hot as the roaring fires that pop up constantly throughout The Age of Innocence. No one here is playing at anything. It’s a world this couple seem to possess in their DNA. Their subtle, naturalistic acting is exhilarating, forming a perfect corollary to the barely constrained passion of Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Passions run deep between Edith Wharton’s forbidden lovers.Their furtive glances and embraces behind closed doors are electric, but they also demonstrate that sometimes less can be more. Little things like the removal of a glove and a kiss on the neck are all so erotic, and all so poignant. The scenes shared by Daniel and Michelle touch a nerve, making for one of the greatest, most exquisitely painful heartbreaks of all time.
From the masterpieces to the crowd pleasers, 1993 was an amazing year. Carlito’s Way, Cliffhanger, The Firm, In the Name of the Father, Judgment Night and Mad Dog and Glory. All were gifts bestowed to us by the movie gods, but The Age of Innocence and Flesh and Bone had the most profound effect on me. For very similar reasons.