From The Age (Australia):
To maintain the rigid status quo of high society New York, sacrifices must be made and rebellion punished. By Avril Moore.
The EROTICISM represented by the perpetually blooming red flowers overlaying the lace and perfect copperplate in the title sequence of The Age of Innocence conveys the film's main theme: old-world values colliding with the new.
And yet if May Welland epitomises the strict adherence of the New York aristocracy to what was socially acceptable for the time, then the irony of the title cannot be lost.
For here, as in the novel by Edith Wharton from which the film is faithfully derived, is a world where the intransigent preservation of wealth and power is paramount, and any whiff of individualism must be sacrificed, if not eradicated.
This tension, or outright hostility, exists beneath a brittle veneer of impeccable manners, taste and morality - a harmony shattered by a whisper and a subterfuge so sophisticated that it warrants decoding by an arch, third-person narrator.
Screenwriter and director Martin Scorsese said the narrator was a "tricky" character. The narrator "presents the story in this way to teach us a lesson".
"I love the idea of the female voice setting us up for a fall. You get to trust her, and then she does you in, just like he (Newland Archer) gets done in," he said. [. . . ]