Benefiting from the sort of good fortune unavailable to its heroine, Davies's film narrowly escaped its own doom last fall when the financiers at Showtime, having threatened to premiere the auteur's elegant widescreen tapestry on pay cable, belatedly struck a deal with Sony Classics for theatrical distribution. Not to wax trivial about a work of such profundity, but it's as if the lawyer Selden suddenly came to his senses and rescued Lily from the rubbish heap just in the nick of time. (Put simply, The House of Mirth demands to be seen projected in 35mm or not at all.) Perhaps this kind of happy ending in the film itself would have resulted in Oscar nominations--without which Davies's admirably independent effort will need to struggle even harder for attention, given the climate of knee-jerk hype around Academy-appointed bachelorettes at the expense of all other beauties. Small wonder the filmmaker has spoken in recent interviews of his depleted bank account, the function of a Lily-like resistance to compromise. In other words, if not to the degree that the novel was for Wharton, Davies's radical change of pace is another work of autobiography.
How not to marry a millionaire: Gillian Anderson in The House of Mirth