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Vanity Fair 2004 PG-13 CC

(192) IMDb 6.2/10
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Starring Reese Witherspoon as an ambitious social climber, Becky Sharp, this sumptuous and sexy epic proves that all is fair in love and war.

Gabriel Byrne, Angelica Mandy
2 hours, 22 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Mira Nair
Starring Gabriel Byrne, Angelica Mandy
Supporting actors Roger Lloyd Pack, Ruth Sheen, Kate Fleetwood, Reese Witherspoon, Lillete Dubey, Romola Garai, Tony Maudsley, Deborah Findlay, John Franklyn-Robbins, Paul Bazely, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Charlie Beall, David Sterne, Bob Hoskins, Douglas Hodge, Meg Wynn Owen, Georgina Edmonds
Studio NBC Universal
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 154 people found the following review helpful By MartinP on May 21, 2005
Format: DVD
If you hadn't gathered it from the movie itself, the bonus documentaries on the DVD will make it clear that this edition of Vanity Fair has at its root a fatal flaw. It attempts to portray Becky Sharp as a sympathetic, even admirable person. A plucky, Madonna-style powergirl. As a result, this is an extremely watered-down version of what Thackeray actually wrote. There is nothing nice about his novel, which is tremendously compelling and hilariously funny, but also coldly cynical. Becky is a brutal predator, who doesn't care a hoot about her child or her husband, and goes about exploiting everyone around her with the greatest zeal.She's closer akin to Hannibal Lecter than to Scarlet O'Hara. Reese Witherspoone's portrayal of the non-heroine blunts all the edges, and leaves us with a fairly uninvolving character whose motivations are not always easy to grasp. Other characters are similarly polished up. George Osborne isn't nearly as callous in his behaviour to Amelia as he is in the novel. Dobbin is far too outspoken and powerful a figure whereas with Thackeray he is the prototype of an utter wet noodle. The absurdity and cowardice of Jos Sedley is smothered in layers of oriental mystique. The dazzling Indian finale, shamelessly over the top, that we get by way of obligatory happy ending, would have us believe that Becky has gone off with him on a life of happy traveling, casting infatuated glances in his direction. In the book however, she simply leeches on him, and Jos besieges his acquaintances to protect him from her! "You don't know what a terrible woman she is". That woman is not in this movie.
In this way, the film completely misses out on the essence of the story. It basically becomes a vehicle for a string of sumptuously executed pretty pictures.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By LK on September 7, 2004
This would have been a fun movie to watch if it weren't for the fact that I was expecting Vanity Fair, by William Thackery.

I disagree that it was a fast-forwarding through the book. It was a gross misinterpretation of the book, of Becky, most specifically.

We are urged into feeling deep sympathy for poor Becky by seeing little girl Becky in all her unloved half-orphan (and then very soon, full-orphaned) state. And as a mother to two daughters, that tugged on my heartstrings.

However - this is not the Becky Sharp that Thackery wrote about.

Becky Sharp went for the soft underbelly.

She loathed Amelia Sedley - perhaps because Amelia was so kind to her. Broken early on, Becky could not accept that kindness without resentment and rage. Amelia's charity (which isn't seen in the movie) served to fuel Becky's contempt and hatred. Becky's avid (and successful) attempts at making George Osborne fall for her was spurred on not only by George's initial insolence and destruction of her marital plans with Jos, but also by her anger and resentment towards Amelia.

Thackery's Becky is not a caricature - she has real depth, and although she mostly enjoys twisting the screws into Amelia's thumbs, she also can't help but pity her, and when it finally comes down to it, loses patience and pushes her towards Dobbin by revealing George's indiscretion. It is one of her few acts of selfless kindness. It seems at this point, she is weary of the whole game. But then again, she is much older and a bit wiser.

In addition to hurting Amelia, Becky deliberately sets out to hurt many others - anyone who has slighted Becky is in danger. She mocks, mimics, and often goes for the figurative throat in an attempt to ruffle her injured feathers.
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86 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 2, 2005
Format: DVD
"Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?"

William Makepeace Thackeray's "Vanity Fair," first published serially in 1847-48, tells the story of the fortunes of two women, the ambitious and amoral Becky Sharp, the orphaned daughter of a struggling painter and a French opera singer, and the passive Amelia Sedley, the wellborn but sheltered daughter of rich merchant. The two young women meet at Miss Pinkerton's Academy for young ladies, where Becky is a tutor of French and Amelia a student, and become friends. We then follow their intertwined lives as Jane tries to climb the social ladder and Amelia follows the dictates of her heart. "Vanity Fair" is celebrated for Thackeray's disparaging and negative portrait of the upper classes of early 19th-century England. The characters are rather vile, the relationships are hopelessly doomed, and readers who were not the targets of Thackeray's pen have enjoyed it ever since.

The BBC did its most reason mini-series version of "Vanity Fair" in 1998 with Natasha Little as Becky Sharp (Little plays Lady Jane Sheepshanks in this version), having done in 1987 with Eve Matheson and in 1967 with Susan Hampshire. This version has Reese Witherspoon playing Becky Sharp, and while having an American actress play the young woman trying to get into English society does translate into a sense that she is clearly on the outside, she does not really convey the amorality of the character. In this version of "Vanity Fair" Becky comes across as mild rather than sharp.
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