VANITY FAIR Send This Review to a Friend
Reese Witherspoon gets a career-building showcase as Becky Sharp in the film based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1848 classic novel. She succeeds in what she is required to do in this treatment of the work, but that is nowhere near enough. In director Mira Nair’s film, Becky is more the attractive climber from poverty to British society than the scheming, ruthless person required to give the story bite and emotional involvement. It’s mostly surface stuff, but Witherspoon often makes the surface glitter.
Nair’s work, scripted by Matthew Faulk, Mark Skeet and Julian Fellowes, always commands attention despite its lack of sufficient depth, and the cast is fine, including Romola Garai as Becky’s friend Amelia, Eileen Atkins as Matilda Crawley, Gabriel Byrne as the Marquess of Steyne, Jim Broadbent as Mr. Osborne, James Purefoy in the role of Rawdon Crowley and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as George Osborne.
Unfortunately Nair has gussied up the film with a foolish attempt to inject Indian culture into the melting pot. A scene in which Becky does an Indian-style dance at a social entertainment is as ridiculous as it is tasteless. There is more such silliness, which shows a lack of judgment on the part of Nair. Although there is an Indian connection, Nair has made it seem a bit too Bollywood-ish in building it out of all proportion.
There is still a definitive “Vanity Fair” to be made. A Focus Features release.