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House of Mirth

Director/Writer:Terence Davies
Sony Pictures Classics; PG; 120 minutes
Release:12/00
Cast:Gillian Anderson, Eric Stoltz, Dan Aykroyd

House of Mirth is a stifled little drama about parlor room intricacies among turn-of-the-century New York upper crust. The source novel was penned by Edith Wharton in 1905. Her classic tale details the decline of beautiful young socialite Lily Bart. Gillian Anderson performs decently in this role, although her X-Files chilliness clouds the picture. it's not her fault, however. A certain dreariness infuses the proceedings. Doldrums originate in the costumes and simmer up through the acting. Dan Aykroyd, for example, fails in his role of lecherous suitor.

The influx of revenge and rumor that eventually destroys Lily is by no means a happy tale. Many will find the film fittingly depicts a bleak high society that offered few choices for women, one where intelligence and beauty often brought more problems than they could assuage. At its best, the cold drama speaks to modern society in an easily recognizable language. At its worst, House of Mirth is underheated and stale.


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