|Sony Pictures Classics | Release Date: December 22, 2000||CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION|
The House of Mirth is not one of those teacup and doily movies; it's harsh and disturbing. Davies does superlatively right by Wharton. There's blood on the walls.
Anderson, possessed of an eerily Edwardian aspect, is superb, luminous and knowing and convincingly proud and desperate as the situation requires.
There was little mirth or innocence in the world that Wharton was able to write her way out of (she was much happier living in Paris), and Davies and his leading lady lift the silks to reveal it as the minefield it was.
Terence Davies' deliberately paced, earnest adaptation of Edith Wharton's breakthrough novel quietly captures the grim complexities of New York's social world nearly a century ago.
Terence Davies's The House of Mirth is a rigorously elegant adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel, and unlike in some other Davies movies, the rigor here doesn't turn into rigor mortis.... This is dourness of a degree you won't find in Wharton, but in its own shadowed terms the film is a triumph. Read full review
While House of Mirth is well done as a period piece, it has such an eerie contemporary resonance that you nearly forget about the horses and corsets and lamplight.
This is very much Anderson's film. The publication of the novel made Wharton's reputation. The release of The House of Mirth should do the same for Anderson.
Anderson brings real gravitas to the unfortunate Lily Bart, in an Oscar-caliber performance that makes one wonder what Academy voters are looking for.
What the movie occasionally lacks is dramatic juice. A reader of the novel will have a greater sense of the obstacles keeping Lily and Lawrence apart than fresh viewers of the movie will.
How well you respond to this handsomely mounted, cold-blooded tragedy will depend on your feelings toward Gillian Anderson's highly theatrical lead performance.
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