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Review of The House of Mirth

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Terence Davies' The House of Mirth features Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart, Edith Wharton's doomed heroine who is too unorthodox to survive in the highly mannered world of New York society circa 1905, but, tragically, too much a part of it to free herself.

Lily, being raised by a dour aunt on a modest stipend, is seeking a marriage to secure her position, yet is ambivalent about the arrangement. She is in love with Lawrence Selden, a young lawyer, whose income is not sufficient to meet her (that is, society's) expectations of an appropriate match.

However, her sometimes unorthodox behavior (smoking, gambling, flirting with Selden) makes it difficult for her to make such a match. At the same time, her eccentricities allow the more serpentine members of her class to take advantage of her, to their gain and her awful loss. Lily's unwillingness to fight back, her pathetic faithfulness to the ideals of her class, is her undoing.

Elizabeth McGovern is Carrie Fisher, a member of the social elite who understands Lily's weaknesses and shows her sympathy and support as she slips down the rungs of Society. Ms. McGovern, who is lovely in period costume and hairdress, captures the essence of a Society woman well and does an excellent job of portraying Wharton's character on the screen.

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