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Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

3.6 16
Director: Mira Nair, Reese Witherspoon, Romola Garai, James Purefoy

Cast: Mira Nair, Reese Witherspoon, Romola Garai, James Purefoy


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William Makepeace Thackeray's witty assessment of the British class system, as seen through the experiences of one young woman, is brought to the screen with some serious star power in this period comedy drama. Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon) is a bright and ambitious girl born to a poor British family. Becky is determined to make something of herself however she can,


William Makepeace Thackeray's witty assessment of the British class system, as seen through the experiences of one young woman, is brought to the screen with some serious star power in this period comedy drama. Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon) is a bright and ambitious girl born to a poor British family. Becky is determined to make something of herself however she can, and after accepting a job as a nanny for the children of the powerful and aristocratic Sir Pitt Crawley (Bob Hoskins), she wastes no time ingratiating herself with the family. Pretty Becky catches the eye of Crawley's handsome and eligible son Rawdon (James Purefoy), and becomes chummy with sharp-tongued Aunt Matilda (Eileen Atkins). Between the two of them, Becky is introduced to London's most exclusive social circle, where she becomes re-acquainted with Amelia Sedley (Romola Garai), a former school chum who is amused by Becky's efforts to scale the ladder of social influence. Becky weds Rawdon, but following initial happiness, the social and economic stability she dreamed of begins to collapse when he begins drowning his troubles in gambling and drink, and soon she turns to the powerful Marquess of Steyne (Gabriel Byrne) for support. Meanwhile, Amelia's fortunes fall even harder following the death of her husband. Vanity Fair was directed by Mira Nair, who enjoyed a surprise international success with 2002's Monsoon Wedding.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
William Thackeray’s scathing indictment of 19th-century British society has been rendered on the screen before -- most memorably as Becky Sharp (1935), an early Technicolor film -- but never with the flair Indian director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) brings to this lavishly appointed version. This is the story of Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon): The poor but ambitious daughter of an alcoholic painter, Becky gains access to London’s smart set by dint of self-education and the friendship of upper-class Amelia Sedley (Romola Garai). Steadily ascending the social ladder, Becky weds Rawdon Crawley (James Purefoy), whose family disinherits him for marrying a commoner. That setback might deter most women, but not the fiercely determined Becky, who maintains her lofty ambition and, eventually, suffers for it. At first blush, Witherspoon seems an unlikely choice for this role, but her natural charm and girlish mien make this endearing actress quite convincing as the cunning manipulator whose will and personality enable her to rise above her station. And while Witherspoon anchors the film, Gabriel Byrne, as the enigmatic Lord Steyne, and Bob Hoskins as Pitt Crawley, the shabby peer with whom Becky begins her journey to the top, deliver memorable character turns. Nair occasionally drifts from the story’s focal point, lavishing footage on colorful but relatively minor figures in Thackeray’s novel, but she captures both the essence of his biting satire and the flavor of the period with a perspicacity that’s unusual in contemporary filmmakers.
All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
In the past, Mira Nair's films were notable for their fine grasp of character, as the filmmaker drew out the pulsing humanity of even minor or would-be villainous characters, immersing viewers in a rich, believable world. In adapting William Makepeace Thackeray's classic novel, Vanity Fair, this gift has failed her to some extent. Beautifully shot by Declan Quinn, the film has a colorful sumptuousness and a visual exactitude that suits Nair's offbeat, Indian-inflected take on the material. Reese Witherspoon has proven in such films as Freeway and Election that she can play characters who aren't cute and lovable. But perhaps her status as a movie star now makes it difficult for her to risk audience sympathy. In any case, this is a much sweeter, more wholesome version of Becky Sharp than the one featured in the novel. This adaptation downplays Sharp's cunning ruthlessness, softening the story's wit, and throws her relationships with the other characters off balance. We end up with a story about a spunky, put-upon heroine and the hypocritical snobs who impede her fairly reasonable hopes and dreams. This wouldn't be so bad if the filmmakers weren't forced to condense Thackeray's mocking epic into feature length, resulting in some confusing ellipses. Her fate should be recognizable as the product of Becky's mercenary behavior, but in Nair's film, it all seems to happen for no good reason, and the dismal outcome of the two major relationships of her life is brushed aside with a couple of throwaway lines of dialogue. Vanity Fair is an enjoyable counterpoint to the Masterpiece Theatre treatment of such material, but it sells short Thackeray's comic vision.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
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Special Features

The Women Behind Vanity Fair: the predominantly female cast and crew reveal how they flawlessly portrayed women of the time in London; Director's commentary: Mira Nair shares her unique vision and personal inspiration in this insightful discussion; Deleted scenes; Welcome to Vanity Fair: a behind-the-scenes look at bringing this timeless story to the big screen

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Reese Witherspoon Becky Sharp
Romola Garai Amelia Sedley
James Purefoy Rawdon Crawley
Jonathan Rhys Meyers George Osborne
Rhys Ifans William Dobbin
Gabriel Byrne Marquess of Steyne
Jim Broadbent Mr. Osborne
Bob Hoskins Sir Pitt Crawley
Ruth Sheen Miss Pinkerton
Geraldine McEwan Lady Southdown
Douglas Hodge Pitt Crawley
Natasha Little Lady Jane Sheepshanks
Eileen Atkins Miss Matilda Crawley
Tony Maudsley Joseph Sedley
Angelica Mandy Young Becky
Roger Lloyd-Pack Francis Sharp
Kate Fleetwood Miss Pinkerton's Crone
Lillete Dubey Ms. Green
Deborah Findlay Mrs. Sedley
John Franklyn-Robbins Mr. Sedley
Paul Bazely Biju
Charlie Beall Gambler
David Sterne Queen's Crawley Mail Coach Driver
Megan Owen Lady Crawley
Georgina Edmonds Young Rose Crawley
Emilie Richardson Young Celia Crawley
Tim Preece Horrocks
Helen Coker Firkin
Tim Seely Doctor
Sophie Hunter Maria Osborne
Paul Bentall Coalman
Sean McKenzie Auctioneer
Kathryn Drysdale Rhoda Swartz
John Woodvine Lord Bareacres
Barbara Leigh-Hunt Lady Bareacres
Nicholas Jones Lord Darlington
Sian Thomas Lady Darlington
Trevor Cooper General Tufto
Brian Pettifer Mr. Raggles
Steven Elder Curzon Street Footman
Gabrielle Lloyd Nursemaid
William Melling Rawdy
Daniel Hay Georgy
Niall O'Brien Mr. Moss
Anu Gopalakrishnan Desert Beauty
Tom Beard Officer
Roma Edmonds Rose Crawley
Gledis Cimque Celia Crawley
Thomas Grant Little Pitt
Kelly Hunter Lady Steyne
Camilla Rutherford Lady Gaunt
Alexandra Staden Lady George
Jonny Phillips Mr. Wenham
Richard McCabe King
Veerendra Saxena Coventry Island Man
Bruce Mackinnon Casino Boy
Mathew Horne Casino Boy
Timothy Bentinck German Official
Andrew Shepard Price Casino Stranger
Tom Sturridge Young Georgy
Chloe Treend Dancer
Stefane Sauer Dancer
Nicole Forbes Dancer
Amanda Courtney Davies Dancer
Louise Weekley Dancer
Lene Langgaard Dancer
Sarah Mogg Dancer
Tracey Lushington Dancer
Sandy Borne Dancer
Stephanie McMillan Dancer
Suzanne Thomas Dancer
Mari Baade Dancer
K. Knight Dancer
Sylvano Clarke Dancer
Nicolas Dodd Conductor

Technical Credits
Mira Nair Director
Ray Angelic Associate Producer
Anita Burger Makeup
Howard Cohen Executive Producer
Pippa Cross Executive Producer
Mychael Danna Score Composer,Musical Arrangement
Janette Day Producer
Maria Djurkovic Production Designer
Nicolas Dodd Musical Arrangement
Blanka Dudas Makeup
Matthew Faulk Associate Producer,Screenwriter
Julian Fellowes Screenwriter
Jane Frazer Co-producer
Donna Gigliotti Producer
Annabel Hill Makeup
Mark Holt Special Effects Supervisor
Allyson C. Johnson Editor
Max Keene Asst. Director
Farah Khan Choreography
Klemens Becker Camera Operator
Drew Kunin Sound Mixer
Rebecca Lafford Makeup
Jonathan Lynn Executive Producer
Jack Murphy Choreography
Frances Needham Makeup
Beatrix Aruna Pasztor Costumes/Costume Designer
Lydia Dean Pilcher Producer
Declan Quinn Cinematographer
Stuart Renfrew Asst. Director
Mary Selway Casting
Jenny Shircore Makeup
Mark Skeet Associate Producer,Screenwriter
Dinaz Stafford Associate Producer
Sam Stokes Art Director
Loveleen Tandan Casting
Lucinda Thomson Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [1:39]
2. Miss Pinkerton's Academy [6:29]
3. Taste of Chilli [8:06]
4. Blessing in Disguise [7:03]
5. Amusing Miss Crawley [8:51]
6. Social Climber [12:16]
7. Vows and Vanity [8:19]
8. Imprudent Marriage [9:58]
9. A Groom's Indiscretion [11:51]
10. A Time of War [8:25]
11. Bearing the Burden [10:53]
12. Last Will [4:32]
13. Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal [11:04]
14. Queen of the Night [6:46]
15. Intimate Betrayal [6:19]
16. A Love Unreturned [6:57]
17. The Beautiful Mrs. Crawley [5:42]
18. End Titles [4:23]


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Vanity Fair 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
viola79 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this movie set in the 18th century. It focuses on the friend ship of 2 women caught up in the turmoil or the Neopolianic War. Reese is great in this movie. If you enjoy history and the customes of this period this movie will be very enjoyable. The dance scene is awesome. Its not what you would expect from dance in that period. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the characters in the book were unbelievable (especially Becky and Amanda). The film version is more agreeable and more believable. I enjoyed the new twist at the end -- and the ambiguity that went with it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is a tedious version of Thackeray's novel. Nair tries to integrate too much of her own culture into the story, which makes for both an uneven and, at times, discombobulated film.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this movie was great but it is a movie that most people would have to watch a few times to understand. Bascily all this movie was about was a woman named Becky was born to a well known artist and a French courus girl so she wants more for herself and so that is what the movie trys to interpret to the viewers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
45 minutes into this movie, my sister said that this may be her favorite movie of all time. For an hour this movie is actually funny and interesting and quite beautiful. Then we got confused. Are we supposed to like any of these people? Why was this movie so funny for an hour and now depressing and bleak? Then we got confused as to when the movie would end...is there a plot? I can't describe the disappointment because it was so funny and enchanting but I couldn't tell where it was going or if there was actually any plot at all. This movie is a chunk of Becky Sharp's life. I'm not sure if I like her or not. That's what I took from this movie. So disappointing. Also, in period pieces, guys haircuts shouldn't be what's in fashion now. Just another thing that irked us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very colorful, Reese was wonderful. But the last half of the movie did not flow...it did not match with the aura of the first half. At the end of the film, all of the issues were wrapped up just a little too conveniently. I'm considering reading the book to compare.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good literary adaptation and an exciting movie. I love the book and the movie did a wonderful job portraying the novel. Anyone who loves literature should enjoy this movie. Becky Sharp is one of the most intriguing characters in literature.....
RJHALL More than 1 year ago
A great classic story has been brought to life with inspiring performances by many outstanding actors. As well as being a moving story, the sets and costumes are exceptional. I would recommend Vanity Fair to anyone who would appreciate a great classic done very well as a movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this movie was not worth my time. It was boring and way to long.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reese does a great job in her role as Becky; the writing is tight and production values are excellent. Unfortunately, the movie makes too much use of the '12 years later' spacing to pass time (and sometimes the viewer has to intuit that some years have passed, although no one ever seems to age, except for the boys). Also, there are lengthy shots (which are gorgeous but irrelevant to the story). A good rent but buyers will be disappointed.
NimueKR More than 1 year ago
The actors, the story, everything made this such a treat to watch and a great "keeper" for your video library.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm surprized that so many reviewers gave this movie such low ratings. I thought this was a really good movie and will probably purchase this for my collection.
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