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THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (2000)

Summary

This adaptation of Edith Warton's novel of the same name promises elegant costuming and a fine cast of well-known actors. The film follows the sad tale of Lily Bart (Gillian Anderson), a New York socialite, who somewhat reluctantly sets out to choose a husband. At 29 years of age, Lily has embarked on her quest for a wealthy suitor somewhat late, but she has a remarkable ability to attract and manipulate men. Although she has gained the attentions of several suitors, her one true love interest is Lawrence Selden (Eric Stoltz), a young lawyer. Although she and Lawrence enjoy their chance encounters and flirtations, both profess not to want to marry the other. However, her heart is never satisfied with any other man, and she turns down a proposition from the wealthy Sim Rosedale (Anthony LaPaglia). When Lily finds herself in debt, she turns to Gus Trenor (Dan Akroyd), the wealthy husband of Lily's friend, who offers to invest a sum of money on her behalf. She later discovers that Gus has instead provided a large allowance of his own money and created an enormous debt which he expects her to repay by succumbing to his indecent overtures. Meanwhile, Lily's cousin, Grace Stepney (Jodhi May), informs her aunt of Lily's debts and scandalous behavior. Infuriated by this shameful information, Lily's aunt threatens to cut off her annual salary. Seeking solace from her familial turmoil, Lily finds a short-lived solace by vacationing with her friend, Bertha Dorset (Laura Linney) and her husband, George (Terry Kinney). This respite ends abruptly, however, after Bertha humiliates Lily and forever tarnishes her reputation by implicating her in a scandal. Cast off from society, Lily soon finds herself penniless and desperate. Unwilling to ask for assistance from any man, she enters the working class as a personal assistant to a scheming socialite, and then later a seamstress in a factory. Finally, Lily realizes that she loves Lawrence, but her situation may be beyond repair.

This film is rated PG.


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