Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair poster at a bus stop on the corner of Dupont and Spadina in Toronto (August 27, 2004)

VANITY FAIR (Mira Nair, 2004)

In VANITY FAIR Reese Witherspoon’s Becky Sharp intends to climb the social ladder even if it means trampling others to get higher. She adapts from a poor orphan into an educated governess. This job helps introduce her to a husband, who she hopes will aid her quest to rise in society.

Director Mira Nair follows up her wonderful MONSOON WEDDING with another film that explores the intricacies of social custom. Becky’s adept maneuvering through upper society’s pitfalls is sometimes muddled from too many characters and too little explanation, but Witherspoon remains fun to watch as a spitfire whose desires will not be denied. There’s less separation from the calculation found here and in reality TV’s BIG BROTHER than you might think. VANITY FAIR is at its best when the characters are most selfish and selfless. Eileen Atkins is deliciously sharp-tongued as Miss Matilda Crawley, the crone who gives Becky entrĂ©e to a better place in her world. Nair injects a strong Indian flavor to the adaptation of the British novel by Thackeray. The lavish set design, art direction, and costumes provide a stunning backdrop for the competition played according to the rules of the game.

Grade: B-

(Review first aired on the September 14, 2004 NOW PLAYING)

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