Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Age of Innocence

It seems strange that Martin Scorsese, the man responsible for blood-soaked films like Goodfellas and Raging Bull, would go and do a much quieter film like The Age of Innocence. This is the kind of film more suited for James Ivory, so is Scorsese's decision in making this a misstep on his part? Absolutely not.

It's peculiar because if you've seen any of his crime films, you wouldn't have thought that Scorsese was capable of subtlety. (Casino would have made that theory impossible to imagine.) But that's the foundation for The Age of Innocence. Scorsese shows that you don't need complete excess for a gorgeous film.

That said, the visual design of the film is stunning. Thanks to Dante Ferretti and Robert J. Franco, the detail in many of the scenes is worthy of anything in a Luchino Visconti film. But it's on a much smaller scale than, say, Visconti's The Leopard. But that helps in the film's sense of subtlety. (There are eye-catching set pieces regardless.)

Scorsese doesn't shy away from making his film practically come alive. And it's thanks to the many finer details that contribute to that. There's Elmer Bernstein's score which just makes the film even more gorgeous. The costumes designed by Gabriella Pescucci are stunning and wisely earned her an Oscar. And the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus practically makes the film swoon. (How did it not get nominated?)

The Age of Innocence is an emotionally gorgeous film. Thanks to the fantastic work from Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder, Scorsese makes Edith Wharton's novel (which I'll admit I haven't read) come to life. And those final scenes are quietly heartbreaking. (Again, not something you'd expect from the man who gave the world Taxi Driver.)

My Rating: *****

1 comment:

  1. Quite smitten with this one eh?

    I actually saw it for the first time this summer this summer (on the big screen even!). It's interesting that you mention James Ivory, since the screening I saw was part of a series called "Films Inspired by Ivory"

    I liked it too, though not as much as I do Scorsese's other films. I was especially taken with all of that lush photography inside the estates. The film is actually home to a pair of my favourite Scorsese shots: Tye overhead shot of the waltzing, and the long shot of all the men in their top hats.

    Sadly it has become "Forgotten Scorsese" though I agree with you that it's lost legacy is a crying shame.


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