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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.58%
Average: 16.28%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 23.26%

4 reviews, 19 user ratings

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House of Mirth, The
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by Stephen Groenewegen

5 stars

The House of Mirth is a beautiful film; an admirable adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel about New York high society.

Set between 1905 and 1907, book and film chart the gradual, but implacable, decline of Lily Bart (Gillian Anderson). Fast approaching a spinsterish thirty, and the recipient of only a frugal allowance from her mean aunt (a haughty Eleanor Bron), Lily's prospects for comfort depend on a secure marriage. Her quest for an appropriate husband is finally thwarted by her own pride, and feelings for Lawrence Selden (Eric Stoltz).

Director Terence Davies has penned a literate script, which expertly captures the key moments and characters of Wharton's novel. He also successfully evokes the peculiar relationship between Selden and Bart. There's no simple reason why they don't marry - it's a combination of societal factors, false expectations and their own misunderstanding. The languorous pacing of The House of Mirth is occasionally draining, but there are compensations in the sumptuous look of the film: Remi Adefarasin's pristine cinematography, the luscious costume and production design, and exteriors (the stately homes and parks of Glasgow substituted for New York).

The House of Mirth is like a cynical Pride and Prejudice, without Jane Austen's fairytale ending. Bart's gender and lack of familial connections are a distinct handicap to retaining her precarious position in society. Worse, her status has given her no useful training for survival once she transgresses the unspoken boundaries of the rich.

Anderson is a vivid Lily, making every emotion plain without overplaying, and inspiring sympathy towards her plight. Among the large supporting cast, I was most taken with Laura Linney, who plays prize manipulator Bertha Dorset with cold relish, and Anthony LaPaglia who brings something appealing to the oily Sim Rosedale.

This is a classy rendering of a classic book.

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originally posted: 06/15/01 16:59:16
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User Comments

3/12/16 Robert Tschinkel I have seen this film numerous times, Gillian Anderson gives the performance of a lifetime 5 stars
8/30/10 Winston Chesterfield "about an hour into it I gave up" - only review the first hour then Muskewitz. 5 stars
12/03/09 Tom Great movie 5 stars
4/10/08 ravenmad I cried at the end - she becomes a woman of integrity. Beautiful. 5 stars
10/04/04 Jinet awesome acting from the cast, excellent job on the plot but a very sad ending :-( 4 stars
8/25/04 sophy great movie, nothing for hollywood brainless movie goers. 5 stars
10/18/03 Phil M. Aficionado 25 minutes in, I gave up. So unbelievably dull and stilted and poorly acted. Ugh. 1 stars
5/21/02 Shrike Gillian is brilliant in this period tale of character and loss 4 stars
4/09/02 Vito Facia Stroonze This movie sucks smelly donkey ass! 1 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Anderson was fantastic. Great period piece. Loved the scenery and costumes. 5 stars
1/23/02 hum good story, good acting, nice to look at 4 stars
12/08/01 Jóse I think that is a good film about the pos-Victorian New York`s life 4 stars
8/18/01 Dave Gillian Anderson is horrendous in this film. She is not pretty at all either! 1 stars
6/16/01 cherilyn WOW! I was amazed at Gillian's performance as Lily... it's a must see! 5 stars
5/02/01 Afton good acting, but overdone 3 stars
2/24/01 Samir A Masterpiece. Those who don't like it are merely brain-dead philistines. 5 stars
2/15/01 Nora The most boring movie I've ever seen. Terrance Davies should be punished. 1 stars
2/13/01 Heather Gillian Anderson turns out a great performance as a socialite whose life turns upside down 5 stars
1/26/01 Boy In The Designer Bubble Hey skully you look damn sharp in your grandmother's dress 4 stars
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  22-Dec-2000 (PG)


  14-Jun-2001 (PG)

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