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Vanity Fair
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Vanity Fair (2004) More at IMDbPro »

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Vanity Fair -- Starring Reese Witherspoon as an ambitious social climber, Becky Sharp, this sumptuous and sexy epic proves that all is fair in love and war.
Vanity Fair -- HV Post


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Matthew Faulk (screenplay) &
Mark Skeet (screenplay) ...
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Release Date:
1 September 2004 (USA) See more »
In a time of social climbers, Becky Sharp is a mountaineer. See more »
Growing up poor in London, Becky Sharp (Witherspoon) defies her poverty-stricken background and ascends the social ladder alongside her best friend, Amelia. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
2 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A novel without a hero becomes a film without any bite See more (146 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Gabriel Byrne ... The Marquess of Steyne
Angelica Mandy ... Young Becky Sharp

Roger Lloyd Pack ... Francis Sharp

Ruth Sheen ... Miss Pinkerton
Kate Fleetwood ... Miss Pinkerton's Crone

Reese Witherspoon ... Becky Sharp

Lillete Dubey ... Ms. Green (as Lillette Dubey)

Romola Garai ... Amelia Sedley

Tony Maudsley ... Joseph Sedley

Deborah Findlay ... Mrs. Mary Sedley
John Franklyn-Robbins ... Mr. Sedley

Paul Bazely ... Biju

Rhys Ifans ... William Dobbin

Jonathan Rhys Meyers ... George Osborne

Charlie Beall ... Gambler

David Sterne ... Queen's Crawley Mail Coach Driver

Bob Hoskins ... Sir Pitt Crawley

Douglas Hodge ... Pitt Crawley
Meg Wynn Owen ... Lady Crawley
Georgina Edmonds ... Young Rose Crawley
Emilie Richardson ... Young Celia Crawley
Tim Preece ... Horrocks the Butler

Geraldine McEwan ... Lady Southdown
Natasha Little ... Lady Jane Sheepshanks

Eileen Atkins ... Miss Matilda Crawley

James Purefoy ... Rawdon Crawley
Helen Coker ... Firkin the Maid
Tim Seely ... Doctor

Jim Broadbent ... Mr. Osborne

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 ... Young Rawdy Crawley
Daniel Hay ... Young Georgy Osborne
Niall O'Brien ... Mr. Moss
Anu Gopalakrishnan ... Desert Beauty
Tom Beard ... Officer
Roma Edmonds ... Older Rose Crawley

Gledis Cinque ... Older Celia Crawley (as Gledis Cimque)

Thomas Grant ... Little Pitt Crawley

Kelly Hunter ... Lady Steyne

Camilla Rutherford ... Lady Gaunt

Alexandra Staden ... Lady George

Jonny Phillips ... Mr. Wenham

Richard McCabe ... The King
Veerendra Saxena ... Coventry Island Man (as Virendra Saxena)

Bruce Mackinnon ... Casino Boy

Mathew Horne ... Casino Boy (as Matthew Horne)

Tim Bentinck ... German Official (as Timothy Bentinck)
Andrew Price ... Casino Stranger

Tom Sturridge ... Older Georgy Osborne
Chloe Treend ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Stefane Sauer ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Nicole Forbes ... Dancer: Slave Dance

Amanda Courtney-Davies ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Louise Rhian Poole ... Dancer: Slave Dance (as Louise Weekley)
Lene Langgaard ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Sarah Mogg ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Tracey Lushington ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Sandy Borne ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Stephenie McMillan ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Suzanne Thomas ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Mari Baade ... Dancer: Slave Dance
K. Knight ... Dancer: Slave Dance
Sylvano Clarke ... Dancer: Slave Dance
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Max Bollinger ... German Casino Goer (uncredited)

Tom Fox Davies ... German Gambler (uncredited)
Will Irvine ... Dancer (uncredited)
Tatiana Lavrentieva ... Posh Scarlet Lady (uncredited)
Craig James Morgan ... Soldier (uncredited)

Vijay Raaz ... Indian Servant (uncredited)

Jade Ramsey ... Public School Girl (uncredited)

Nikita Ramsey ... Public School Girl (uncredited)
Deborah Wise ... Lady Agatha (uncredited)

Directed by
Mira Nair 
Writing credits
Matthew Faulk (screenplay) &
Mark Skeet (screenplay) and
Julian Fellowes (screenplay)

William Makepeace Thackeray (novel)

Produced by
S.M. Ferozeuddin Alameer .... line producer: India
Ray Angelic .... line producer: India
Howard Cohen .... executive producer
Pippa Cross .... executive producer
Janette Day .... producer
Lydia Dean Pilcher .... producer
Matthew Faulk .... associate producer
Jane Frazer .... co-producer
Donna Gigliotti .... producer
Jonathan Lynn .... executive producer
Mark Skeet .... associate producer
Dinaz Stafford .... associate producer
Original Music by
Mychael Danna 
Cinematography by
Declan Quinn 
Film Editing by
Allyson C. Johnson 
Casting by
Mary Selway 
Loveleen Tandan 
Production Design by
Maria Djurkovic 
Art Direction by
Nick Palmer 
Sam Stokes 
Lucinda Thomson 
Set Decoration by
Kalpa Dave 
Tatiana Macdonald  (as Tatiana Lund)
Costume Design by
Beatrix Aruna Pasztor 
Makeup Department
Bee Archer .... additional hair stylist
Bee Archer .... additional makeup artist
Zoe Clare Brown .... additional hair stylist (as Zoe Brown)
Zoe Clare Brown .... additional makeup artist (as Zoe Brown)
Anita Burger .... makeup artist
Blanka Dudas .... makeup artist
Jon Henry Gordon .... additional hair stylist
Jon Henry Gordon .... additional makeup artist
Annabel Hill .... makeup artist
Virginia Holmes .... assistant makeup: India
Joe Hopker .... additional hair stylist
Joe Hopker .... additional makeup artist
Sue Ignatius .... additional hair stylist
Sue Ignatius .... additional makeup artist
Rebecca Lafford .... makeup artist: Ms. Witherspoon
Mai Layton .... additional hair stylist
Mai Layton .... additional makeup artist
Sadie Lunn .... hair trainee
Sadie Lunn .... makeup trainee
Fran Needham .... hair stylist: crowd
Fran Needham .... makeup artist: crowd
Jacqueline Russon .... makeup artist
Loulia Sheppard .... hairdresser: Ms. Witherspoon
Jenny Shircore .... hair designer
Jenny Shircore .... makeup designer
Chang Su Chan Shiu .... assistant hair stylist: India
Barbara Taylor .... crowd hair stylist
Shaunna Harrison .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Jeanette Redmond .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Production Management
Rupert Ryle-Hodges .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Matthew Baker .... second assistant director (as Matt Baker)
Amy Coop .... additional third assistant director (as Adam Coop)
Reema Kagti .... second assistant director: India
Max Keene .... first assistant director
Candy Marlowe .... second assistant director: crowd
Danny McGrath .... third assistant director
Jay Jay Odedra .... second unit director (as Jay J. Odedra)
Stuart Renfrew .... first assistant director: India
Akshay Roy .... third assistant director: India
Art Department
David Ackrill .... daily dressing prop
Chris Cull .... property master
Belinda Cusmano .... assistant set decorator
Richard Dalton .... props
Amy Dewar .... art department runner
Gill Farr .... production buyer
James Fennessy .... painter
David Ned Kelly .... carpenter
Emily Lutyens .... graphic artist
Suzanne Caplan Merwanji .... supervising designer: India
Simon Riley .... stand-by props
Adrian Start .... paint supervisor
Tony Statham .... sign creator
Hattie Storey .... art department assistant
Sarah Stuart .... stand-by art director
Chris Ulusele .... stand-by props
Tom Whitehead .... draughtsman
Billy Wilson .... lead dressing props
Eddie Wolstencroft .... stand by painter
Sound Department
Marko A. Costanzo .... foley artist
Dan Edelstein .... foley editor
Robert Fernandez .... sound re-recording mixer
Peter Gleaves .... adr mixer
Dan Korintus .... dialogue editor
Drew Kunin .... production sound mixer
Marissa Littlefield .... adr editor
Tony Martinez .... supervising sound editor
Eric McAllister .... assistant sound editor
Kate Morath .... boom operator
Kate Morath .... sound maintenance
Luke Neuman .... assistant sound
Lowell Pickett .... digital media assistant
Mary Ellen Porto .... sound effects editor
Steve Schwartz .... assistant sound editor (as Stephen Schwartz)
Warren Shaw .... supervising sound editor
Jeffrey Stern .... dialogue editor
Eric Strausser .... assistant sound editor
Bill Sweeney .... foley editor (as William Sweeney)
Dominick Tavella .... sound re-recording mixer
Alexander Beddow .... adr recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
James Davis III .... special effects senior technician
Hugh Goodbody .... special effects technician
Mark Holt .... special effects supervisor
Visual Effects by
Ryan Beadle .... digital I/O
R.J. Harbour .... digital compositor
Mark Sawicki .... optical camera
Brian Allan .... optical camera (uncredited)
Andy Bradford .... stunt coordinator
Nrinder Dhudwar .... stunt coordinator
Levan Doran .... stunt double
Camera and Electrical Department
John Adefarasin .... clapper loader: "a" camera
John Adefarasin .... second assistant camera: "a" camera
Ben Battersby .... additional second assistant camera
Ben Battersby .... clapper loader: "b" camera
Klemens Becker .... Steadicam operator
Klemens Becker .... camera operator: "a" camera
Arjun Singh Bhurji .... key grip
Dharmendra Bhurji .... best boy grip
David Cadwallader .... grip: "a" camera
Chris Clarke .... additional second assistant camera
Frank Connor .... still photographer
David Cozens .... first assistant camera: "a" camera
David Cozens .... focus puller: "a" camera
Barny Crocker .... assistant camera (as Barnaby Crocker)
Steve Cussell .... electrician
Mulchand Dedhia .... gaffer: India
Dean Foard .... electrician
Ian Franklin .... rigging gaffer
Nick Kenealy .... video assist operator
Paul Molloy .... electrician
G. Monic Kumar .... first assistant camera: "b" camera, India
Ronan Murphy .... additional grip
Ed Nessen .... second assistant camera: "a" camera, India
Heather Norton .... first assistant camera: "a" camera, India
Jay Jay Odedra .... camera operator: "b" camera
Jay Jay Odedra .... director of photography: second unit (as Jay J. Odedra)
Brian Strange .... camera trainee
Iain Struthers .... additional focus puller
Tammo van Hoorn .... additional first assistant camera
David Wall .... chief rigging electrician
Jimmy Wilson .... gaffer
Casting Department
Lucy Bevan .... casting assistant
Louis Elman .... adr voice casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Arjun Bhasin .... costume designer: India
Rosie Grant .... additional costume
Jenny Hawkins .... costume set supervisor
Amanda Keable .... costume supervisor
Urmilla Lal Motwani .... wardrobe supervisor: India
Jacqueline Mulligan .... costume maker (as Jacqueline Simpson)
Sophie Norinder .... dresser: Ms. Witherspoon
Julia Patkos .... costume design assistant
Editorial Department
Kenny Becker .... color timer
Yana Collins Lehman .... post-production assistant
Jack Lewars .... assistant color timer: Efilm
James Nichols Jr. .... assistant editor
David O. Rogers .... assistant editor
David A. Smith .... assistant editor
Shelly Westerman .... assistant film editor
John Dowdell .... hd colorist (uncredited)
Music Department
Christine Bergren .... music legal and clearance
Mychael Danna .... orchestrator
Terry Davies .... composer: dance music
Nicholas Dodd .... conductor
Nicholas Dodd .... orchestrator
Jennifer L. Dunnington .... music editor (as Jennifer Dunnington)
Vic Fraser .... music copyist
Brad Haehnel .... music mixer
Paul Talkington .... musician contractor
Bruce White .... viola
Transportation Department
Peter Devlin .... transport coordinator
Chris Hammond .... driver: minibus
Darren Thackeray .... driver
Dave Williams .... wardrobe truck driver
Other crew
Rajeev Acharya .... production accountant: India
Imtiaz Amir .... production accountant
Maria Bisset .... assistant horse master
Christian Brockey .... production coordinator: India
Stephanie Carroll .... visual consultant
Gilly Case .... location scout
Philip Clark .... location scout
Mike Clark-Hall .... floor runner
Hannah Collett .... assistant: Ms. Witherspoon
Nigel Martin Davey .... stand-in (as Martin Nigel Davey)
Heather Dixon .... assistant: Ms. Pilcher
Anu Gopalakrishnan .... assistant: Ms. Nair
Steve Hart .... second location manager
Uzma Hasan .... post -production assistant
Dan Hillsdon .... assistant accountant
Saarrah Imtiaz .... assistant to accountant
Amy Irvine .... stand-in
Ali James .... location assistant
Sally Jones .... script supervisor
Claudia Kalindjian .... unit publicist
Simrun Kalra .... assistant: Ms. Nair
Geeta Kapoor .... assistant choreographer (as Geeta Kapur)
Debbie Kaye .... horse master
John Kearney .... horse wrangler
Farah Khan .... choreographer
Julie Landholt .... end title graphics
Marcus Lansdell .... cine mosaic
Richard Lindsay .... assistant location manager
Hayley Lyon .... assistant accountant
Miranda Marks .... assistant production coordinator
Jill McCullough .... dialect coach
Tariq Mirza .... legal: production
Jack Murphy .... choreographer
Cindy Newman .... dog handler
Hermione Ninnim .... production coordinator
James Payton .... stand-in
David Pinnington .... location manager
Ashley Rudden .... creative executive
Joe Russo .... interviews: post-production
Adelaide Scardino .... assistant: Ms. Day
David Seaton .... assistant location manager
Payal Sethi .... local production coordinator: Mirabai Films
Amin Soltani .... crowd runner
Yasmine Stafford .... production coordinator
Alistair Thompson .... production accountant
Katharine Tidy .... food stylist
Aminta Townshend .... assistant script supervisor
Jane Trower .... first assistant accountant
Dan Turner .... contact: London
Brett Tyne .... assistant: Ms. Frazer
Susie Valerio .... stand-in (as Susie Gossling Valerio)
Laura Sophie Ware .... production runner
Pam Weaver .... animal handler: farm animals
Barry Alexander Brown .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for some sensuality/partial nudity and a brief violent image
141 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Brazil:12 | Canada:PG (Alberta/British Columbia) | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Finland:K-7 | Germany:6 | Hungary:14 | Iceland:10 | Ireland:12 | Portugal:M/12 | Singapore:PG | Singapore:PG13 (TV rating) | South Korea:15 | Sweden:11 (DVD rating) | Switzerland:7 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:7 (canton of Vaud) | Switzerland:14 (canton of Zurich) | Taiwan:PG-12 | UK:PG | USA:PG-13

Did You Know?

Most of the costumes were purposefully made a little smaller than necessary, to slightly alter the overall look of them.See more »
Anachronisms: "Now sleeps the crimson petal", published 1847, does not feature in the novel as stated below; Becky sings "religious songs of Mozart" to please Lady Steyne. Rawdon junior was born in 1816 and is still a child, so Lord Steyne's party takes place in the 1820s.See more »
Miss Matilda Crawley:How do I look?
Becky Sharp:A good deal stronger. They will be disappointed.
See more »
Carillon de DunkerqueSee more »


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149 out of 186 people found the following review useful.
A novel without a hero becomes a film without any bite, 15 September 2004
Author: anhedonia from Planet Earth

If Becky Sharp, Georgian England's conniving, calculating social climber, had a contemporary equivalent, it surely would be Tracy Flick, the deliciously ambitious high school student played delightfully by Reese Witherspoon in the acerbic comedy, "Election" (1999).

Director Mira Nair has said what made Witherspoon the ideal Becky Sharp was the actress' "American energy and sassiness." Fair enough. But why did Nair then tame that energy and sass? We see none of it in Witherspoon's Becky. This isn't the feisty actress who proved she could play edgy and biting in "Election" and "Freeway" (1996). This is Elle Woods as Becky, thanks to Nair's misguided decision to turn Becky into an appealing feminist.

I'm not averse to directors stamping their distinct styles on literary works, mixing film styles or modernizing old works. But you don't change the work's crucial essence. You don't transform Goneril and Regan into caring daughters, for instance.

That's where Nair's take on William Makepeace Thackeray fails miserably.

She and Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes - the two other credited writers, Matthew Faulk and Mark Skeet, reportedly disowned the film alleging the shooting script bore no resemblance to their work - have stripped Becky of all her viciousness and cunning. They've declawed her in a ridiculous attempt to make her likable.

In interviews, Nair and Witherspoon insist they didn't want to make a typical "bonnet" film. Fine. But you also shouldn't make a film that doesn't know what it wants to be and lacks emotional resonance. And that's what Nair's film is.

It sparkles for about a half-hour or so as we see a young Becky, played pluckily by Angelica Mandy; then, the older Becky (Witherspoon) leaving school with her friend, Amelia (Romola Garai), and meeting, among others, Dobbin (Rhys Ifans) and George Osborne (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Later, Becky becomes Sir Pitt Crawley's (Bob Hoskins) governess and meets her future husband Rawdon (James Purefoy) and Matilda (Eileen Atkins).

But once Becky heads to London, the film screeches to a halt. With no one seemingly knowing what the emotional tone should be and the story's harshness and satiric edge excised, the film grinds at a snail's pace, the actors slowly sapping all the energy out of it. A scene between Becky and George at the piano should be tart, their words should sting. Instead, the two actors labor with the dialogue and make the moment as sharp as a dull razor.

Adapting Thackeray's massive novel into a feature film was never going to be easy. But Nair gets more wrong than right. With the exception of the children, none of the characters age. Gabriel Byrne looks the same at the end of the film as he did in the beginning, which takes place 40 years earlier. Witherspoon, Garai, Hoskins, Ifans, Purefoy and Rhys-Meyers also show no hint of aging. And in an attempt to condense the story, important characters - Amelia and Dobbin, for instance - disappear for long periods and show up solely to wrap up subplots.

The highlights are Declan Quinn's striking cinematography, performances by Hoskins and Atkins, the only two who seem to be having any fun, and a superbly restrained Ifans, playing convincingly against type.

Much has been made about the Indian influence in Nair's story. There's nothing wrong with them being in the film. Thackeray was born in Calcutta and the colony's impact was evinced in Georgian English society. Not only do Nair's Indian touches make the film seem more vibrant, but the peacocks, parrots and Indian musicians, costumes and servants also make provocative statements about the exploitation of India and how the British Empire amassed its wealth. However, no matter how exotic it seems, Becky's dance just doesn't work and seems like nothing more than an imprudent attempt to add a foreign film style into this period piece.

Witherspoon, whose English accent falters occasionally, works commendably, but ultimately remains unconvincing through no fault of her own, really. You don't take someone who quips, "Revenge may be wicked, but it's perfectly natural," and turn her into a sweet, amiable victim. Witherspoon isn't even remotely as devious as Nair would want us to believe.

It's unlikely another actress, say Kate Winslet or Kate Beckinsale, would have fared any better for she'd have worked with the same script and Nair's foolhardy direction, which includes inexplicably asking Geraldine McEwan to not so much speak her lines as to squeal them high-pitched, making the veteran actress' Lady Southdown needlessly irritating.

This film remains so emotionally lackadaisical that when Becky finally breaks down before Rawdon, it seems more like a "For Your Oscar-Consideration" moment for Witherspoon than anything else. By softening Becky, making her more alluring than calculating, Nair destroyed the story's spirit. She and Fellowes also tacked on a ludicrous ending.

As botched film adaptations of literary works go, "Vanity Fair" isn't nearly as execrable as Roland Joffé's "The Scarlet Letter" (1995). But I'm confounded as to how the skilled storyteller of "Salaam Bombay!" (1988) and "Monsoon Wedding" (2001) could have gone so horridly wrong.

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