This film at last is getting some amount of visibility. Formally and aesthetically, this is as great a film as Scorsese can make. The editing – which always focuses on the character’s subjectively at one and the same time as it obsessively details the rituals of social functions, the camera movements which move with grace and subtelty at the same time creating a web of associations through the complex movement on-through-off-screen and the use of colour which avoids the Merchant-Ivory trappings of faded beige and amber instead saturating the film in blue and red tones. Then of course this is a rare film that successfully adopts the novelistic structure of it’s source instead of chopping it to a theatrical schema.
At the centre is the stunning performance of Daniel Day-Lewis who is on the surface the most “normal” and the least “neurotic” of Scorsese protagonists but whose obsession with the only woman he truly loves cracks his restraint, one scene at a time. The love that defines his life dooms him and exposes him to those around him and it’s too late by the time he finds out or can do anything about it. Lewis brings this to the core especially in that magnificent final scene. This is literary film-making at it’s most exciting.