The Age of Innocence ★★★

Between the twin excesses of Cape Fear and Casino sits this uncharacteristically restrained entry in the Scorsese canon. Swapping bullets and bastards for bonnets and bustles seemed like an improbable move at the time, but closer inspection of The Age Of Innocence reveals plenty of Marty’s usual preoccupations: a conflicted, tempted male protagonist, familial loyalty, New York City, fetishised food and a near total failure of men to comprehend women.

Like Michelle Pfeiffer swanning through the uptight high society of 1870s New York in a blood red dress, Scorsese brazenly foregrounds cinematic technique in a traditionally sedate genre. Irises in and out, blatant metaphorical cutaways and bold use of silence should keep costume dramaphobes from nodding off and Scorsesophiles delighted. The rituals and corset-tight social customs of the setting are anthropologically examined in forensic detail, but this richness leaves the strongest aftertaste of a film that should also be drowning in Brief Encounter-levels of repressed sexual tension: Daniel Day-Lewis’ removal of one of Pfeiffer’s gloves is as erotic as it gets (tbf it is pretty hot stuff), and his forbidden yearning for her never quite connects like it should. The final scene gave my heart a solid prod, but if I’d cared more about the film’s quietly simmering love triangle it could have ripped it clean out and stamped on it with an exquisitely-buckled boot.

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