Adapting Edith Wharton’s 1925 novel about a secret passion within the enclosed social universe of 19th-century New York struck many as an odd departure for Martin Scorsese. Upon release in 1993, The Age of Innocence was greeted with equal amounts of admiration and puzzlement, but today it feels like one of Scorsese’s greatest achievements—as visually expressive as it is emotionally fine-tuned. A magnificent lament for missed chances and lost time, the stunning movie features an extraordinary cast led by Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder.
There is no question that Martin Scorsese is one of the most important filmmakers in the history of cinema. Five random minutes of any of his films is likely to contain more cinematic ideas, more vitality, more edge than the complete duration of most other features. The Age of Innocence was an inspiration to both Reprise and The Worst Person in the World. (Edith Wharton and Henry James were important for Reprise, believe it or not, and at the same time we wanted to make our Goodfellas, only with inhibited wannabe writers instead of gangsters…) But the influence of the film is maybe even more evident in Worst Person: there is not only the female omniscient voice over and the way the movies reveals its passive and indecisive main character through the acting and stylistic choices, but also the ambition of making a movie about the path you didn’t choose in life… and how that decision can live with you forever. —Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt