Vanity Fair

"Very Good"

Vanity Fair Review


Mira Nair has groomed her sumptuous adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair for Oscar contention, and the period epic easily could compete in a number of technical categories. Pencil the handsome film down for costume design, art direction, and makeup nominations. Declan Quinn's cinematography certainly deserves a nod, too. It's a little early to tell how all the races will shake out, but leading lady Reese Witherspoon could even surprise a few people by seeing her name on a short list of Best Actress nominees.

Too bad no one is going to pay to see the film. Most mainstream filmgoers would opt for root canal over having to sit through a 19th century social commentary piece. Take Ang Lee's Sense And Sensibility as an example. It earned seven Oscar nominations back in 1995, but only grossed $42 million in the States.

Which is unfortunate, because there's plenty to enjoy in Fair, starting with Witherspoon's multifaceted turn as Becky Sharp. The orphaned daughter of a starving artist, she manipulates the hearts of decent men to climb London's social ladders. At a time when class status means everything, Becky lives well above her means but manages to stay in society's good graces through some well-placed applications of observant wit, sarcastic humor and irresistible charm. She befriends impressionable Amelia (Romola Garai), marries into the respectable Crawley family, and eventually catches the eye of a wealthy suitor in the Marquis of Steyne (Gabriel Byrne).

Becky's a demanding role, yet Witherspoon seems comfortable operating on either end of the communal food chain - her character must go from destitute to privileged and back again over the course of the film's 2 hour and 20 minute runtime. Nair peppers Becky's journey with light and lively comedic touches, and even injects a distinct Indian flair that supplements the accessible screenplay. The tasty Fair script, credited to three different writers, maintains an unexpected conversational tone and is seasoned with bitter games of social manipulation.

The challenge comes in condensing Thackeray's 800-page novel into a workable story, and Nair does an admirable job juggling character arcs and managing her film's flow. A scorecard's almost necessary to keep the Crawley's separate from the other families of the age. There's still enough to trim, especially in Becky's final bid for wealth and status that occupies the film's final act and turns Byrne into a lecherous old cad. But if the class struggles of the corseted clans are your thing, then Fair is a decently-acted and good looking film that's worth your time and money.

The DVD includes commentary from Nair, deleted scenes, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Prepare the bonfires!



Vanity Fair

Facts and Figures

Run time: 141 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st September 2004

Box Office USA: $16.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $16.1M

Budget: $23M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Alliance Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Fresh: 83 Rotten: 81

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Becky Sharp, as Rawdon Crawley, as George Osborne, as Amelia Sedley, as The Marquess of Steyne, as William Dobbin, as Mr. Osborne, as Sir Pitt Crawley, as Miss Matilda Crawley, as Joseph Sedley, as Pitt Crawley, as Older Georgy Osborne

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.