Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. 100
    I have seen love scenes in which naked bodies thrash in sweaty passion, but I have rarely seen them more passionate than in this movie, where everyone is wrapped in layers of Victorian repression.
  2. A great, velvety, beautiful anachronism. It's a movie almost drunk on romance, literature and cinema, a splendid period picture that keeps rashly breaking rules and boundaries [17 Sept 1993, Friday, p.A]
  3. Thoughtful and reflective, it stands with the most exquisitely crafted films in recent memory, joining eloquently conceived images to an uncommonly literate screenplay. [17 Sept 1993, Arts, p.11]
  4. Best “performances,'' however, are given by the movie's almost agonizingly beautiful historical settings -- luxurious households, rich architecture, furnishings, ornaments, draperies, fineries and such are often more captivating than the hushed tones of the lovers. [17 Sept 1993, Daily Notebook, p.C1]
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    100
    After watching Pfeiffer and Day-Lewis submerge molten 19th-century sparks here, it is now conceivable that Scorsese could make compelling cinema out of “Three Blind Mice.” [17 Sept 1993, Life, p.1D]
  6. 100
    A sumptuous motion picture, a feast for the senses.
  7. It comes eerily close to duplicating the experience of reading while, at the same time, remaining very much a motion picture. That's a rare, perhaps even unprecedented, achievement.
  8. 100
    A beautifully done adaptation of the novel, polished, elegant and completely cinematic. It is also a bit distant, a film that doesn't wear its feelings on its sleeve, but given the effects it's after, that would be counterproductive. [17 Sept 1993, Calendar, p.F-1]
  9. A magnificent movie. [19 Oct 1993, p.A18(E)]
  10. 100
    Instead of "Masterpiece Theatre"-style fawning, [Scorsese] fills this movie with visual flow, masterful cinematography and assured direction. There's an alert, thinking presence behind the camera.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    90
    A gravely beautiful fairy tale of longing and loss. [20 Sept 1993, p.82]
  12. 88
    Day-Lewis is smashing as the man caught between his emotions and the social ethic. Not since Olivier in "Wuthering Heights" has an actor matched piercing intelligence with such imposing good looks and physical grace.
  13. Up through its first half, The Age of Innocence is a masterfully orchestrated tale of romantic yearning.
  14. Reviewed by: Staff (Non Credited)
    80
    Its loving exploration of the arcane workings of a closed society, that of wealthy, well-bred New Yorkers of the 1870s, has more in common than one might expect with Scorsese's earlier work, from "Mean Streets" through "Goodfellas."
  15. Ms. Pfeifer is lovely, the visual focal point of the film, but also much more. With her soft voice, her reserve and her quickness of mind, her Ellen has emotional weight. She's the film's heart and conscience. [17 Sept 1993, p.C1]
  16. 80
    Though lovely to behold, this film isn't meant to send you home with a song in your heart.
  17. 80
    Less fruitful is the casting of Michelle Pfeiffer as May's older cousin, the mysterious Countess Olenska, with whom Archer falls hopelessly in love. With her silly blond curls, Pfeiffer looks more plaintive than the dark exotic of Wharton's imagination.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Scorsese has met most of the challenges inherent in tackling such a formidable period piece, but the material remains cloaked by the very propriety, stiff manners and emotional starchiness the picture delineates in such copious detail.
  19. 50
    A bore... The film leaves you with the feeling, once again, of having enjoyed a lovely meal fit for royalty only to discover, too late, that the fruit was made of wax and the roast was little more than a Styrofoam mock-up.
  20. What helps Pfeiffer most is the fact that though she is exceptionally pretty, she patently doesn't rely on her prettiness: she wants to act. But, with her Ellen, though we know what she means from moment to moment, we simply don't feel it... Winona Ryder is disastrously miscast. [18 Oct 1993, p.30]
  21. As beautifully mounted as this production is, Scorsese has a way of letting the decor take over, so that Wharton's tale of societal constraints comes through only in fits and starts. But it's a noble failure.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 34 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. JoshC.
    Nov 19, 2006
    2
    A bore from begining to end. This is white elephant art at its worst.
  2. GiuseppeB
    Oct 10, 2006
    10
    Michelle Pfeiffer had to win the Oscar.
  3. HTI.
    Feb 1, 2006
    10
    This is one of the most heart-wrenching movies I have experienced.