Parents' Guide to

The Age of Innocence

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Book-based Scorsese classic has mature themes.

Movie PG 1993 138 minutes
The Age of Innocence Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 11+

Long period piece that faithfully adapts Wharton's novel

A well made period piece that is as stiff as the dresses and high collared suits it displays. Day-Lewis is superb (per the usual)and the story has that Wharton specialty of manipulation from those you least expect. The story hits deep into the layers of human sensibility and portrays people trapped by societal norms. A bit of a slog at over 2 hours, but the actors sell their performances well.
age 12+

Aproppiate but emotionally striking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
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Some consider this to be one of Scorsese's masterpieces, but the snail's pacing and the dwelling on lush images that fetishize the trappings of wealth aren't for everyone. Wharton was praised for her observations of the habits and obsessions of her tribe, but using the camera to sweep across paneled drawing rooms, painting-covered walls, and carpeted hallways is surprisingly less exhilarating than well-written words on a page. The movie makes a meal of the anguish of people trapped by their own attachments to their privileged, manufactured world of laws and restrictions, but at two hours and a quarter plus, there's only so much moaning over being forced to vacation in luxurious homes owned by the wrong people that a viewer is willing to endure.

At the time The Age of Innocence was made, many thought Scorsese, the filmmaker often drawn to tales of violence and wise-guy crimes, was an odd choice to direct, but Scorsese treats the bizarre rules of honor in Wharton's elite society the way he treats the so-called honor and rules of the Goodfellas world. Transgressors are punished and treachery runs deep in both. But banishment from the ostentatious ballrooms seems petty compared to kneecapping and sadistic gangland murders. Day-Lewis inhabits a sphere of acting genius far beyond any of the movie's other cast members. You can feel his heart rate increase as he merely imagines making love to Ellen, and you can see his face register shock at the recognition that his seemingly guileless wife has outplayed him into remaining married to her. As depicted in Downton Abbey, Wharton notes the changes undergone by the wealthy and predicts an even more unrecognizable future ahead. The world of her childhood, where the rich could ignore the turmoil outside of their privileged realms, had already lost its innocence in the devastation of World War I. There's no talk of war here, but at movie's end, Newland walks the streets of Paris at age 57, with both the war that would end all wars and his own best years behind.

Movie Details

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