The House of Mirth

Synopsis: Terence Davies' The House of Mirth is a tragic love story set against a background of wealth and social hypocrisy in turn of the century New York. Lily Bart is a ravishing socialite at the height of her success who quickly discovers the precariousness of her position when her beauty and charm start attracting unwelcome interest and jealousy. Torn between her heart and her head, Lilly always seems to do the right thing at the wrong time. She seeks a wealthy husband and in trying to conform to social expectations, she misses her chance for real love with Lawrence Selden.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Terence Davies
Production: Sony Pictures Classics
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 6 wins & 28 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
135 min

Mr Selden, what luck.

- Good luck?

- Yes.

I'm on my way to the Trenors'

at Bellomont

and I've missed the 3:15

to Rhineback.

There isn't another train

till half past five.

How nice of you to come to my rescue.

And what form should my rescue take?

Oh, almost any.

Shall we go over

to Sherry's for a cup of tea?

Mmm, I'm dying for a cup of tea

but isn't there a quieter place?

- I live near here.

- At the Benedick still?

Yes, on the top floor.

- Is it cool up there?

- Come up and see.

I'll take the risk.

Oh, how delicious to have

a place like this all to oneself.

Even women have enjoyed

the privileges of a flat.

Governesses, yes.

But not poor, marriageable girls.

I even knew a girl

who once lived in a flat.

If I could only do over

my aunt's drawing room

I should be a better woman.

Is it so very bad?

That shows how seldom you come there.

Why don't you come oftener?

When I do come, it's not to look

at Mrs Peniston's furniture.

Nonsense. You don't come at all.

And yet we get on so well

when we meet.

- Cream or lemon?

- Lemon.

Oh, I can't make you out.

Of course there

are men who dislike me

and others who are afraid of me.

They think I want to marry them.

But I don't think

that you dislike me.

And you can't possibly think

that I want to marry you.

No, I absolve you from that.

- Well, then?

- Perhaps that's the reason.

- The reason for what?

- You don't want to marry me.

Perhaps I don't regard that

as a strong inducement to go see you.

Dear Mr Selden, it is stupid of you

to be disingenuous.

And it isn't like you to be stupid.

I have been about too long.

People are getting tired of me.

They are beginning to say

that I ought to marry.

Isn't marriage

what you're all brought up for?

I suppose so.

So why not take the plunge

and have it over?

You collect, do you?

- First editions and things?

- Mmm-hmm.

And do you collect Americana?

No, that's rather out of my line.

And Americana are horribly dull

I suppose?

I should fancy so

except to the historian.

Yet they do fetch

such fabulous prices, don't they?

Only the very rich

can afford to buy them.

And you know that I am not rich.

But life is very expensive.

Do you mind not being rich enough?

And having to work -

do you mind that?

The work itself is not so bad.

I'm rather fond of the law.

But do you mind enough

to have to marry to escape it?

- God forbid.

- Ah, there is the difference.

A girl must, and a man if he chooses.

Perhaps you'll meet your

fate tonight at the Trenors'.

I thought you might be going there.

- Those big parties bore me.

- As they do me.

Then why go?

You forget

it's part of the business.

Good luck at Bellomont.

Miss Bart?

- Well, of all people.

- Oh, Mr Rosedale. How are you?

Been uptown doing a little shopping?

Yes. I came up to see my dressmaker.

I didn't know there were

any dressmakers at the Benedick.

- Oh, is that this building?

- Yes, I own it.

The name means 'confirmed bachelor'.

Hmm. I'm just

on my way to the Trenors'.

You must let me

take you to the station.

No, thank you.

You're very kind, but I wouldn't

think of troubling you.

Ah! Mr Gryce. It's you.

The seat next to me is empty.

Do take it.

I suppose you're going to Bellomont.

- Yes, for a week.

- A whole week? How delicious.

- And how is your Americana?

- I've got a few new things.

Your uncle had a fine collection

I believe.

Yes, he collected

for a number of years, but -

I must have this seat

next to you, Lily. Oh!

Oh, Mr Gryce. How do you do?

I came across from Mount Kisco

in the motor car.

Had to wait at Garrisons for an hour

without even a cigarette.

You haven't one left, have you, Lily?

What an absurd question, Bertha.

You don't smoke?

Since when have you given it up?

And you don't smoke either, Mr Gryce?

Ah. How stupid of me.

It was simply inhuman

of Pragg to go off now.

When I was in Tuxedo

I asked a lot of people down.

I've mislaid the list

and can't remember who's coming.

And this week is going to be

a failure, too.

Judy, as if anybody

is ever bored at Bellomont.

Everything has gone wrong.

And Bertha Dorset's furious with me.

She's furious with you? Why?

I told her Lawrence Selden

was coming, but then he wouldn't.

She unreasonably believes

it was my fault.

- I thought that was all over.

- Oh, so it is. On his side.

I'll call up Lawrence

to tell him he simply must come.

- Oh, don't.

- Do you dislike him so much?

Not at all! I like him.

Oh, I don't say

there's any real harm in Bertha

but she loves making people

miserable, mainly her husband.

Poor George.

But she is dangerous.

And you are not nasty.

And for getting what she wants

commend me to a nasty woman.

I thought you were so fond of Bertha.

Oh, I am, it's much safer

to be fond of dangerous people.

Did you know

his father made a fortune

inventing a device

which excludes fresh air from hotels?

- Who?

- Why to be sure, Percy Gryce.

But he's horribly shy

and easily shocked -

Say it. I've the reputation for

being on the hunt for a husband.

Lily, I asked him here

on purpose, for you.

Percy Gryce and I

are becoming very good friends.

You're quite sure you wouldn't

like me to call Lawrence Selden?

Quite sure.

I do enjoy the quiet.

- Don't you, Lily?

- Mmm.

I wish the men

would always stay away.

It's really much nicer without them.

Oh, you don't count, George.

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Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton (; born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was an American novelist, short story writer, and designer. Wharton combined an insider's view of American aristocracy with a powerful prose style. Her novels and short stories realistically portrayed the lives and morals of the late nineteenth century, an era of decline and faded wealth. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921, the first woman to receive this honor. Wharton was acquainted with many of the well-known people of her day, both in America and in Europe, including President Theodore Roosevelt. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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