The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

Adapted and Directed by Terrence Davies

Staring Gillian Anderson, Dan Aykroyd, Eric Stoltz

Some women make astoundingly poor choices in men. Not Miss Lily Bart (Anderson), though. She has the opposite problem — her standards are always just a bit too high. As an orphan on the fringes of 1905 New York Society, she keeps rejecting men that she probably ought to nab. First it’s the shy, boring, but astonishingly rich Mr. Percy Gryce (Pearce Quigley). Then it’s the ambiguous Lawrence Seldon (Stoltz), who may or may not be a confirmed bachelor. As the field narrows, her choices lower in quality. Married Gus Tenor (Aykroyd) will keep her, if she wants, but she doesn’t. Then George Doreset (Terry Kinney) offers to divorce his run around wife Bertha (Laura Linney). Lily actually has a bunch of love letters from Bertha to Seldon — she bought them at a yard sale — but doesn’t want to disgrace someone like Seldon or Bertha or herself. Then she boots fabulously wealthy Sim Rosedale (Anthony LaPaglia). He’s just a bit too Jewish for her high society, and now Lily’s getting a tatty reputation, like a dress that’s been returned to Wal-Mart a few times to often. With gambling debts and addiction to Chloral Hydrate (sort of like Valium, except it tastes like bleach), Lily is reduced to working for a living, first as a Lady’s secretary, then as a milliner, both jobs for which she is eminently unsuited. Even when cranky old auntie Money Bags dies, Lily gets written out of the will. It’s OD time.

This film has the most outstanding sets and costumes. The aura of moneyed NYC during the days of the Rich Man’s Panic comes across on a set dripping with the post Victorian bric-a-brac. Even Lily’s slummy apartment at number 57 Quaint Street has massive walnut armoires and desks, the sort of things to go gaga over on Antiques Roadshow. Mirth projects a feeling of ennui and cash toxicity, put forth by a competent set of actors, but there’s no mirth in any of the action and the film lacks any sense of urgency. Lily is making fatal mistake after fatal mistake, and no one bothers to mention it on screen or on in the audience. Lily is marriageable, sexy, and feisty, but she hasn’t the sense God gave a frog to grab the first guy with a bank account that doesn’t smell and won’t beat her. Lily is a fool, and high society loves fools, so long as they bring their own cash. Too bad she’s just spent hers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Too Much and Never Enough
    Too Much and Never Enough

    One families indifference and abandonment gave America its greatest failure. Mary Trump explains how.

  • Summerland
    Summerland

    In rural England, a cranky woman bonds with and evacuee boy and uncovers a strange connection to her past.

  • Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
    Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations

    These geniuses of early comedy finally get the presentation they are due in this Blu-ray edition.

  • Four-Letter Words
    Four-Letter Words

    No need to worry about offending delicate sensibilities with this playlist. We’re not talking about profanity, so just take the title at face value.

  • A Genesis In My Bed
    A Genesis In My Bed

    Former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett shares his life story in his story in an engaging and honest memoir. Reading his story feels like hanging out with a friend who’s interested in sharing how he felt living these experiences.

  • The Jayhawks
    The Jayhawks

    XOXO (Sham/Thirty Tigers). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • 18 to Party
    18 to Party

    When you’re in 8th grade, sneaking into a bar is way cooler than it is when you’re 40.

  • Adam
    Adam

    A pregnant woman finds a home in Casablanca.

  • 2020 on Fire
    2020 on Fire

    Sound Salvation takes on current events with a playlist addressing the current fight for racial and social justice in America and the battles playing out in the streets in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

  • Pokey Lafarge
    Pokey Lafarge

    Rock Bottom Rhapsody (New West Records). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

From the Archives