Director Martin Scorsese has once again proved (to me, at least) that he is a fearless director who possesses endless versatility. Whether it's a biblical epic or a gangster shoot 'em up, Scorsese seems to live and breathe cinema.
The Age of Innocence is no different.
Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) are two very compatible people who can't live happily ever after because they fall in love in the wrong time and wrong place. However, Archer is engaged to the young, traditional May Welland (Winona Ryder) and the Countess Olenska is contemplating a socially unacceptable divorce from her Polish husband.
What results is an aesthetically gorgeous feast and a compelling and lightly satirical look at the romance and drama of those who dwell in the gossipy obstacles courses of New York high society of the late 1800s.
And, not to mention, Daniel Day-Lewis, in this film in particular, is incredibly handsome. I thought of how well he is able to wear the period garb in this film and how attractive he made those insane, flamboyant costume pieces in Gangs of New York look. If I were a man, I would want Daniel Day-Lewis' physique. Just sayin'.
Just looking at this picture reminds me of the electricity between Close and Malkovich. What chemistry.But as I watched The Age of Innocence, I was reminded of another period film (and Pfeiffer flick), Dangeorus Liaisons, directed by Stephen Frears. Frears, for the most part, is almost as versatile as Scorsese but doesn't seem to get the same level of undivided attention.
In Dangerous Liaisons, you have John Malkovich, fearlessly and successfully tearing through a conventional lothario role with his unconventioinal looks. And that impeccable last shot of Glenn Close is simply haunting.
While The Age of Innocence takes place a century later in an entirely different continent, there is the same discreet, hush-hush mentality regarding uncontrollable feelings that deviate from the norm. Yet, strangely enough, everything feels so much more liberated in Dangerous Liaisons. Perhaps that's due to the naturally manipulative nature to the characters in Dangerous Liaisons, in contrast to the characters in The Age of Innocence, who, deep down, just want to do the right thing.
I personally prefer The Age of Innocence, yet I also adore the exciting games played in Dangerous Liaisons, despite the fact that the film does feel too theatrical at times. These films would accompany each other well in a double feature.
So, which film do you prefer: The Age of Innocence or Dangerous Liaisons and why?