The House Of Mirth

The House Of Mirth

***1/2

Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

Lily Bart is an unmarried woman in turn-of-the-century New York, outwardly confident, yet clearly feeling pressure to make a good marriage as soon as she can. Her lack of personal finances mean that she will not marry the man she truly loves, Lawrence Seldon.

Her financial disadvantage leads to her being manipulated by scheming men of money, and Lily soon finds herself out of favour with society. Matters worsen when scheming socialite Bertha uses Lily's sullied reputation for her own ends.

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Lily finds herself in a situation of facing social and financial ruin, or using evidence that has fallen into her hands to settle Bertha - but in doing that she will destroy Lawrence as well...

Gillian Anderson gives an incredible performance conveying Lily's tenderness, grief and frustration at being straitjacketed by polite society. There are other great performances too - Laura Linney as the venomous Bertha, and a very creepy Dan Ackroyd as Gus. But Eric Stoltz seems strangled by the period setting and conveys little passion as Lawrence, which weakens the film considerably.

From the opening scene, in which Lily sweeps out of the railway station, it's clear that this film is to be a visual treat. Terence Davies makes full use of the setting to allow us into this ornate, yet vicious world. Despite this, there is a stultified, languid air to his direction that sucks the vital passion from the film.

In the end, Terences Davies' film is an interesting story on the tyranny of society, and the money that runs it - but given the material and the talent involved, it should have been a great deal more moving than the very pretty creation it undoubtedly is.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2001
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A New York socialite faces financial ruin after falling victim to the rumour of an affair.
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Read more The House Of Mirth reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray ****

Director: Terence Davies

Writer: Terence Davies, based on the novel by Edith Wharton

Starring: Gillian Anderson, Eric Stoltz, Dan Aykroyd, Eleanor Bron, Terry Kinney, Laura Linney, Anthony LaPaglia, Jodhi May, Elizabeth McGovern, Eric Stoltz

Year: 2000

Runtime: 140 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK


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