Scorsese's magnificent film, taken from Edith Wharton's novel, is set in 1870s New York and centres on lawyer Newland Archer (Day-Lewis), whose plans to wed the impeccably connected Mary Welland (Rider) are upset by his love for her unconventional cousin, the Countess Olenska (Pfeiffer). The performances are excellent, while the director employs all the tools of his trade to bring his characters and situations vividly to life; from the start, it's clear from the speedy cutting and sumptuous mise-en-scène that Scorsese and his team are intent on drawing us into the heart of Archer's perceptions and the world around him (this is, most certainly, an expressionist film). Decor reflects and oppresses characters; posture, gesture and glance (like the witty, ironic narration) convey not only individual psychology but the ideals of an entire, etiquette-obsessed elite. Everything here serves to express an erotic fervour, imprisoned by unbending social rituals designed to preserve the status quo in favour of a self-appointed aristocracy. Scorsese's most poignantly moving film.