With consummate grace and exceptional style, Terence Davies transformed Edith
Wharton's caustic tragedy of manners into a somber, languid dream. New York,
1905: A charming, unmarried
woman of increasingly limited means, Lily knows her time is nearly up; she's In the rarefied air of high society, where a young woman's vocation lies
in marrying well and one false move can leave her reputation in tatters, Lily
Bart (Gillian Anderson) is playing a dangerous game.
getting older, she's been out in society for too long, and she's running up
debts she can't repay from the allowance her aunt (Eleanor Bron) grants her.
Lily piques the interest of a dull, wealthy prig (Pearce Quigley), but lets
him slip through her fingers for an afternoon dalliance with the man she could marry for love, fortuneless lawyer Lawrence Selden (Eric Stoltz). In the eyes
of her best friend Judy Trenor (Penny Downie), Lily's made a big mistake. But
it isn't nearly as damaging as the financial arrangement Lily makes with
Judy's husband (Dan Aykroyd), who agrees to invest a little money on Lily's
behalf. When he starts handing her dividend checks with the expectation of a
little gratitude, the tongues of Lily's vain and shallow "friends" begin
wagging, and her downfall has begun. In a film studded with good performances
— Laura Linney is perfectly terrifying as Lily's smiling nemesis, Bertha
Dorset — Davies took a gamble with Anderson, a largely untried dramatic
actress best known for her work on TV's The X-Files. The risk paid off:
With a raised eyebrow and curled upper lip, she never seems completely
comfortable in the role of coquette, and there's something slightly artificial
about her performance. In a sense, she's perfect for the role of a woman who,
as Selden describes her, "has it in her to be whatever she believed to be."
When the mask slips, she's heartbreaking.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2000
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: With consummate grace and exceptional style, Terence Davies transformed Edith Wharton's caustic tragedy of manners into a somber, languid dream. New York, 1905: A charming, unmarried woman of increasingly limited means, Lily knows her time is nea… (more)