written by Matthew Faulk and Julian Fellowes from the novel by William Thackeray
directed by Mira Nair
starrting Reese Witherspoon, Gabriel Byrne and James Purefoy
review by Stephen Notley
Climbing that ol' social pyramid can be a
during the 18-teens in the brief interregnum when Napolean licked his
Elba Isle before emerging Lex Luthor-like to threaten
It's in these fun times in Vanity Fair we find Reese Witherspoon as governess-for-hire Becky Sharp, blessed with neither lordship nor money but aching to ascend on the strength of nothing more than her charm, wit and oppulent bosom. And so she does, circuituitously in a two-steps-forward one-step-back snakes-n'-ladders meander over a few different spots in the 1815 English social scheme.
There's quite a slew of characters in here, no doubt. We've got Becky's friend Amelia who takes Becky to meet the family: Amelia's father Sir Pitt the elder, a crumbling lord with bad hair played by Bob Hoskins, Amelia's half-brother Pitt Crawley, doofusy heir to the Pitt title, and Amelia's other half-brother Rawdon Crawley, suave soldier-about-town/gambler. Becky manages to ingratiate herself with Amelia's wealthy aunt Matilda, swapping naughty stories of elopement until Becky secretly marries Rawdon at which point Matilda suddenly remembers she's a conservative after all. Meanwhile Amelia's got her own stuff going on with another dashing soldier George Osborne (played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers with the whiny snottiness you'd expect from, say, a Joaquim Phoenix) and his longsuffering soldier buddy Dobbin and then Napolean attacks and some characters get pregnant and then Gabriel Byrne shows up as a rich guy with an at-first-unstated-but-then-increasinlgy-explicitly-stated Robert Redford Indecent Proposal debts-for-humping scheme for Becky to consider in her eternal climb for the top, wherever that is.
It's a period piece, of course, beautifully
sumptuous, loads of decolletage. Director Mira Nair (Kama Sutra: A Tale
Love, Mississippi Masala, Salaam Bombay!) clothes and shoots everything
brilliantly, and her brief invocations of