The House of Mirth

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 1 out of 17

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  1. YoonMinC.
    Sep 26, 2003
    9
    As an adaptation of a Wharton novel, House of Mirth takes an opposite approach to Scorsese's Age of Innocence. If Scorsese couldn't resisting glorifying(thru visual fascination)the very world Wharton was dissecting, House of Mirth takes a more down-to-earth, even plain look at this world of high society. Perhaps this is partly due to a smaller budget, but I feel this movie As an adaptation of a Wharton novel, House of Mirth takes an opposite approach to Scorsese's Age of Innocence. If Scorsese couldn't resisting glorifying(thru visual fascination)the very world Wharton was dissecting, House of Mirth takes a more down-to-earth, even plain look at this world of high society. Perhaps this is partly due to a smaller budget, but I feel this movie achieves something closer to Wharton's spirit whereas Scorsese's all-too-reverent adaptation resembles a glossy museum piece. The world portrayed in this movie is highly refined and genteel but also highly deceptive and a ruthless cardgame of facades. The heroine of the movie, bred and expected to succeed in this world, never understands the nature of the gamble or the stakes involved, and the movie slowly, achingly slides into muted tragedy. Great acting all around except by Dan Ackroyd whose villainous growls are saturday cartoon material. Expand
  2. AndreaH.
    Jun 6, 2001
    10
    I read this book years ago, even before becoming a huge Gillian Anderson fan. The book became my favorite and when I heard Gillian was doing the movie...I was in heaven. This movie is amazing. You may think it's dull at parts but you can't finish it and deny that Gillian is not absolutely wonderful as Lily. I love her...I love it! Watch it...or I'll kill you all. : )
  3. Ruthanne
    Mar 3, 2001
    9
    It's a little hard to get into, but once you are into it, it is a brilliant film. Gillian Anderson was very good in that role.
  4. MarinaG.
    Feb 23, 2001
    7
    Anderson proves herself to be an exceptional actress, but the film is extremely dull despite the great acting.
  5. [Anonymous]
    Jan 24, 2006
    10
    This performance should have won Gillian Anderson the Oscar. The entire movie is like watching a beautiful painting come to life.
  6. May 20, 2013
    8
    This Terence Davies emotive period drama could be a sterling double-bill with THE GREAT GATSBY (2013, 8/10), which is the penultimate film I have watched. Last year I hold my underwhelmed apathy towards Davies’ THE DEEP BLUE SEA (2011, 6/10), my first Davies film entry, but a closer DVD viewing of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH greatly galvanizes my affinity to Edith Wharton’s convoluted story of aThis Terence Davies emotive period drama could be a sterling double-bill with THE GREAT GATSBY (2013, 8/10), which is the penultimate film I have watched. Last year I hold my underwhelmed apathy towards Davies’ THE DEEP BLUE SEA (2011, 6/10), my first Davies film entry, but a closer DVD viewing of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH greatly galvanizes my affinity to Edith Wharton’s convoluted story of a woman’s inept battle with the hypocrites and the iniquitous of the well-heeled echelon near the beginning of 20th century in New York, it is the dramatic demise of an unsullied soul, there is no mirth at all.

    Anderson’s Lily, an ill-fitted maiden of upper class, sustained by her wealthy aunt Julia’s (a ghastly Bron) charity, balks between her passionate desire with a lower class lawyer Lawrence (Stoltz) and her promising marriage with an upstart Sim (LaPaglia), to whom she has no feelings at all, meanwhile a bad investment or a guileless trust to the wrong man (Aykroyd) corners her into a financial predicament, which subsequently creates discord between her and Julia and eventually will cost her the endowment of the inheritance. That’s not enough, she is also manipulated to be the pull-upon by her friend Bertha (Linney), while the most excruciating fact is that Lily has the substantial evidence to give Bertha the tit-for-tat, but she can never make up her mind to do it (out of self-respect or the dread of destroying Lawrence’s reputation since he is the other partaker in the affair). So Lily is a woman of dignity, even when she is utterly at the end of her tether (she has to take a menial job to earn a living, which she will be dismissed for her incompetence), she refuses to take Sim’s succor, her ill-fated life succumbs to a plaintive dirge of an irreversible tragedy.

    Davies conducts the film adeptly with elegant costumes, shady light compositions, the interior murkiness augurs the dark-amber and midnight-blue tinctures in THE DEEP BLUE SEA, grants melancholy its most suffocating ambiance to submerge audiences’ compassion, the score of classical orchestra makes the story even more poignant.

    The film is also a victory for its cast, Gillian Anderson (I have never watched the X-FILE series and its movie spinoffs), under the bridle of the corset, most of her time her breath is visibly confined into an asphyxiated discomfort just like her character’s situation, performance-wise, it may be her once-of-a-lifetime glory, carries out the emotional roller coaster throughout, shamefully it is less acknowledged. Eric Stolz, whose tender tune undergirds his man-child debonair, shows his best form as the man who fails to save his beloved woman. Laura Linney, pretty much nails the virulence and slyness in this less-known work. Jodhi May is great in turning on the waterworks but her character overall has been skated over.

    Admittedly I have a predilection towards period dramas, and I may miss out some literal undertones of the proficiently organized conversations by Wharton and the dramaturge (Davies himself), but the film is so close in my top 10 list in such a strong year.
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Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. 70
    How well you respond to this handsomely mounted, cold-blooded tragedy will depend on your feelings toward Gillian Anderson's highly theatrical lead performance.
  2. 38
    Anderson, in her first major non-Scully film role, is lethally miscast.
  3. 90
    Leisurely yet streamlined film, brilliantly adapted by British filmmaker Terence Davies from Edith Wharton's most powerful novel.