The Age of Innocence (1993)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Ah, another 'period drama.' I may not like gender stereotypes, but sometimes I do fulfill them: I am a woman who enjoys a good bonnet/ corset drama. The acting in period dramas, as it is in this film, is usually top-notch, and the production design is a joy in and of itself. Scorsese is not the obvious choice to direct a film such as this, but he handles Wharton's finely wrought story very well.
Daniel Day-Lewis is fantastic, balancing his passion for Pfeiffer's Olenska with his sense of duty to Ryder's May Welland. Pfeiffer is very good as Ellen Olenska, portraying a woman aware of the binds she has found herself in. Ryder arguably has the harder job, making May look innocent and sweet but with deep recesses of cunning. She does this well.
As mentioned, the production design is glorious, with many close-ups of the ornate paintings hanging on the walls, and the fancy dinners at candle-lit tables. Many shots look like the paintings on the wall, highlighting the historical distance between our society and theirs. This reflects Wharton's own approach to this period, as she wrote from an early 20th century perspective about the 1870s.
I really liked the novel when I read it several years ago, and think this is an excellent adaptation.