This film has suppressed passion, love-of-a-life overtones and I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a bit of (discreet) bodice heaving, too. Stretching her acting wings after a successful (and still active) stint in the ever-perennial X-Files, Gillian Anderson slips out of her natty FBI tailored suits and into a bodice and long skirt to play Lily Bart, a socialite in search of that rare animal - a worthy (read 'stinkingly rich') husband in order to secure her position.
Along the way she falls for Lawrence Seldon (Eric Stoltz), her one true love, yet must bury these feelings in order to carry on with her socially acceptable husband-stalking quest. Unfortunately, the upper crust can be a dangerous place - a veritable jungle of shifting allegiances and hidden enemies. After poor Lily is falsely accused of having an affair with a married man, she finds her reputation effectively ruined, and herself ostracised from 'nice' society. Slipping further and further down the ladder of social approval, Lily finds herself in near poverty, and even (shock, horror) facing the prospect of...work!
Edith Wharton is a tricky author to nail down. Her books examine the stifling etiquette and the social hypocrisy of her times, awkward facets to present. House of Mirth, however, is a subtle, lushly filmed satire on personal and social complexities, and provides a welcome respite from mainstream Hollywood mass-production.
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