6.2/10
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151 user 113 critic

Vanity Fair (2004)

PG-13 | | Drama | 1 September 2004 (USA)
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Growing up poor in London, Becky Sharp defies her poverty-stricken background and ascends the social ladder alongside her best friend, Amelia.

Director:

Mira Nair

Writers:

Matthew Faulk (screenplay), Mark Skeet (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gabriel Byrne ... The Marquess of Steyne
Angelica Mandy Angelica Mandy ... Young Becky
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. Sedley
John Franklyn-Robbins John Franklyn-Robbins ... Mr. Sedley
Paul Bazely ... Biju
Rhys Ifans ... William Dobbin
Jonathan Rhys Meyers ... George Osborne
Charlie Beall ... Gambler
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Storyline

The British Empire flowers; exotic India colors English imaginations. Becky Sharp, the orphaned daughter of a painter and a singer, leaves a home for girls to be a governess, armed with a keen wit, good looks, fluent French, and an eye for social advancement. Society tries its best to keep her from climbing. An episodic narrative follows her for 20 years, through marriage, Napoleonic wars, a child, loyalty to a school friend, the vicissitudes of the family whose daughters she instructed, and attention from a bored marquess who collected her father's paintings. Honesty tempers her schemes. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

All's fair in love & war. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sensuality/partial nudity and a brief violent image | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK | India

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

1 September 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Vanidad See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,268,925, 5 September 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$16,136,476

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,111,020
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After asking Reese Witherspoon to get pregnant for the role (as a joke, because she thought Reese was too thin), Director Mira Nair was delighted when Witherspoon announced she was pregnant after all. See more »

Goofs

During the dance scene, a musician plays a metal flute, which was invented by Theobald Boehm around 1832. See more »

Quotes

Maria Osborne: George is engaged. It's understood.
Mr. Osborne: And it can be un-understood.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Before the credits start rolling the word "Alvida" (goodbye) appears in Urdu script. Beneath it is the following dedication: for our beloved Ammy Kulsum Alibhai 1927-2003 See more »


Soundtracks

Over the Mountains/The Great Adventurer
Arranged by David McGuiness
Produced by Mychael Danna
Performed by Custer LaRue
Custer LaRue appears courtesy of The Dorian Group, Ltd.
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User Reviews

 
Social climbing
12 January 2006 | by jotix100See all my reviews

William Thackerey's "Vanity Fair" has been adapted for the screen and television in numerous occasions. It is almost an impossible task to get a coherent take on a narrative that spans a lot of years and in which a lot happens.

This adaptation of the book by Mira Nair with the adaptation by Julian Fellowes, is sumptuously photographed by Declan Quinn, who captures the Regency period in the England at the beginning of the XIX century. Ms. Nair's touch is evident in the way the costumes have an Indian flair as they were brilliantly executed by designer Beatrix Aruna Pasztor. Maria Djurkovic's wonderful production design is also an asset.

If anything, this reincarnation of the Thackerey's novel is a joy for the eyes. The rich period in which the action takes place comes alive in the screen as a feast of colors, which in a way, compensate for the failings on the story and in the way Ms. Nair conceived the way she wanted to tell this tale about an ambitious young woman who is the epitome of social climbing. As a character puts in the film, Becky Sharp would be a perfect mountaineer.

Part of what is wrong with the film is Reese Witherspoon in the central role. Not that her interpretation is wrong, it's that she doesn't project the character of Becky Sharp with an intensity that another actress might have brought to the role. In part, this might not have been Ms. Witherspoon's fault, but the director's, in the way she guided the key performance.

The other failure of the film lies in the last scenes in which one finds Becky in Baden-Baden. Becky, Amelia, and Dobbins, haven't aged one iota. For the sake of realism, a bit of old age makeup should have been applied to these actors, or else, one might believe in the curative waters of that German spa. If it was true, we should be taking the next flight to Germany. After all, if that were the case, it would be the end of plastic surgery as we know it!

Some of the best actors of the English stage and screen are seen in various roles. Bob Hoskins, Eileen Atkins, Jim Broadbent, Gabriel Byrne, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Rhys Ifan, Romola Garai, Jonathan Rhys-Meyer, James Purefoy, just to name a few, do an excellent job in the portrayal of their characters.

This "Vanity Fair", although flawed, is not a total failure. Mira Nair shows an amazing talent for being in command of such a large project.


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