Terence Davies' adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel is a triumph which puts most recent screen versions of the classics to shame. It concerns a New York socialite beauty who ends in disgrace, despair, poverty and worse after she is wrongly rumoured to have had an affair with the philandering husband of one of her friends. Though period and place are sensitively evoked, Davies sidesteps superficial details to home in on both the cruel nuances of the wealthy set's polite social rituals and the resultant suffering. It's a marvellously elegant (but unflashy) film of faces in sombre close-up, an emotionally devastating study of injustice, enforced solitude, wasted opportunities and love never quite gratified. The casting is inspired, with Anderson, especially, repaying her director's faith with an immaculate, unsentimental but immensely moving performance, while Davies' writing, sense of pace, and customary honesty make for a film that profoundly affects both the heart and mind.
Cast and crew