Saturday, December 10, 2005


Reese Witherspoon Vanity Fair Movie Directed by Mira Nair
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

Becky Sharp is an orphaned child after the death of her opera singing mother (years before) and her painter father (more recent). She's quickly bustled into a house of governesses where her life's ambitions will collide with what is expected of her.

Becky grows quickly and is soon offered a job within the family of a wealthy woman whom she'd shared her time in training with (both women now having been trained to be governesses). But Becky isn't satisfied to just be a low-slung teacher of well-to-do children. She wants to scale the walls of indifference that separate her from the upper echelon of society. And she's willing to do just about anything to get there.

Along the way there's deceit, anger, backstabbing, love, loss, and redemption.

Reese Witherspoon stars as the beautiful and conniving Becky Sharp, and does so with surprising strength. Never having seen Mrs. Witherspoon in a role of this type, I was stunned to see her English portrayal pulled off extremely well. In fact, all of the actors and actresses did a great job (Gabriel Byrne, Jim Broadbent, Bob Hoskins, Deborah Findlay, etc.).

I was also very pleased with the sets, the costumes, and the colorful ending of the film as Becky finally makes it to India.

Where this movie had problems was in execution. We leap forward many years several times in the film and this was disorienting if not downright irritating to the movie watcher. I felt like I'd gotten a type of time whiplash .

I've yet to read
William Thackeray's VANITY FAIR, of which this film is adapted from. I have read other reviews which lambast the film for maneuvering too far from the books intent, but I'm obviously unable to comment on that here. Here I'm only able to rate the movie on its own merits.

Click here for the Vanity Fair movie trailer!


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