The Age of Innocence

Synopsis: Society scion Newland Archer is engaged to May Welland, but his well-ordered life is upset when he meets May's unconventional cousin, the Countess Olenska. At first, Newland becomes a defender of the Countess, whose separation from her abusive husband makes her a social outcast in the restrictive high society of late-19th Century New York, but he finds in her a companion spirit and they fall in love.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Martin Scorsese
Production: Columbia Pictures
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 32 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
139 min

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I didn't think the Mingotts|would have tried it on.

Parading her at the opera.

Sitting her next to May Welland.|It's all very odd.

Well, she's had such an odd life.

Will they bring her|to the Beauforts' ball?

If they do, the talk|will be of little else.

Good evening, Mrs. Welland, May.


You know my niece, Countess Olenska.


I hope you've told Madame Olenska.


That we're engaged.

I want everybody to know.

Let me announce it at the ball.

If you can persuade Mama.

Why should we change what is settled?

But you can tell my cousin yourself.|She remembers you.

I remember we played together.

How this brings it all back to me.

I remember everybody|in knickerbockers and pantalettes.

You were horrid.

You kissed me once behind a door.

But it was Vandy, who never|looked at me, that I loved.

- You have been away a very long time.|- Centuries and centuries.

So long, I'm sure I'm dead|and this dear place is heaven.

It invariably happened,|as everything did in those days... the same way.

...Mrs. Julius Beaufort appeared,|unaccompanied by her husband...

...just before "The Jewel Song. "

And, again as usual,|rose at the end of the third act...

...and disappeared.

New York then knew|that a half-hour later...

...the Beauforts' annual|opera ball would begin.

Carriages waited at the curb|for the entire performance.

It was known in New York|but never acknowledged...

...that Americans want|to leave amusement...

...even more quickly|than they want to get to it.

The Beauforts' house was one of|the few in New York with a ballroom.

Such a room, shuttered in darkness|364 days of the year...

...was felt to compensate for whatever|was regrettable in the Beaufort past.

Regina Beaufort came from|an old South Carolina family.

But her husband, Julius,|who passed for an Englishman...

...was known to have dissipated|habits, a bitter tongue...

...and mysterious antecedents.

His marriage assured him|a social position...

...but not necessarily respect.

Newland Archer hadn't stopped at|his club, as young men usually did...

...but came directly to the ball.

He wanted the announcement|of his engagement... divert gossip away|from the countess...

...and show his most ardent support|for May and her whole family.

The Beaufort house had been|boldly planned.

Instead of squeezing through|a passage to get to the ballroom... marched solemnly down a vista|of enfiladed drawing rooms.

But only by passing through|the crimson drawing room...

...could one see|The Return of Spring...

...the much-discussed nude|by Bouguereau...

Archer enjoyed such challenges|to convention.

He questioned conformity in private...

...but in public he upheld|family and tradition.

This was a world balanced|so precariously...

...that its harmony could be|shattered by a whisper.

On the whole, Archer was amused by|the smooth hypocrisies of his peers.

He may even have envied them.

Lawrence Lefferts, for instance...

...was New York's foremost|authority on form.

His opinion on pumps|versus patent-leather oxfords...

...had never been disputed.

On matters of surreptitious romance...

...his skills went unquestioned.

Old Mr. Sillerton Jackson was|as great an authority on family... Lawrence Lefferts was on form.

The mean and melancholy history of|Countess Olenska's European marriage...

...was a buried treasure|he hastened to excavate.

He carried, like a calling card... entire register|of the scandals and mysteries...

...that had smoldered under|the unruffled surface of society...

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Jay Cocks

John C. "Jay" Cocks, Jr. (born January 12, 1944) is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is a graduate of Kenyon College. He was a critic for Time, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, among other magazines, before shifting to screenplay writing.[1] He is married to actress Verna Bloom. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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