Tag Archives: The Age of Innocence

Love Hurts: The Age of Innocence and Flesh and Bone

Love, in its various guises, is a perilous thing. It can be a fire that consumes you, body and soul, day and night. You never know when it’s going to strike or who with. With the exception of the genius that is Addicted to Love and the always charming, One Fine Day I much prefer romantic dramas over romantic comedies as films that offer some insight into love.Ellen and NewlandFrom Casablanca and other classics such as From Here to Eternity to The Age of Innocence and Flesh and Bone, the really great love stories rarely have happy endings. Lovers don’t always end up together. Love often ends in tears. Or separation. Or death.
the-countesMartin Scorsese’s gorgeous The Age of Innocence dramatises the pain of unfulfilled love better than just about any film I can think of. The most highly charged scenes between Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) – are achieved with few words but heart-stopping pictures of stolen glances and helpless, hopeless embraces. The film’s touching final scene, where Newland sits on a Paris street and remembers Ellen as she was, breaks my heart each and every time I watch it.
Kay CakeThe fragile, sometimes fickle nature of love, is at the heart of Flesh and Bone. Dennis Quaid plays a wounded soul wandering West Texas, stocking vending machines while avoiding any deep personal relationships, until a chance meeting with another runaway from the past, the passionate and impetuous Kay, played by Meg Ryan.
West Texas Countryside Rolls byFor my money, Flesh and Bone does exactly what a great love story should – it overwhelms the viewer with sheer, unadulterated emotion. This is something that romantic comedies, suffocated by tropes, froth and glamour, can’t even begin to do.
Arlis and KayHere love is a fever that burns right through the screen and the passions shared in the couples brief moments of intimacy are so intense even the audience aches. Both films, with their exquisite cinematography and music, show us what it feels like to want love, to find love and to lose it.
Ellen OlenskaPfeiffer, looking a picture in velvet, feathers and furs, strives to give depth to an enigmatic woman within the confines of strict, old world dialogue: Ryan is the revelation, her subtle, naturalistic acting is intoxicating, nailing the insecurity and doubt under Kay’s brazen front, in another marvellous, magical job.
Flesh and Bone FeaturedBoth are films that convey regret with such poignancy you can’t help feel it right along with these gorgeous, lovelorn characters. And that impeccable last shot of Meg Ryan is simply haunting. How do you say goodbye? There are actually no words that are adequate to describe this feeling. Just as in the classics, you can’t help but feel their pain. When a film hurts this much, you know it’s good.


Filed under Retrospective