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Vanity Fair
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Pride and Prejudice
The 2004 movie Vanity Fair with Reese Witherspoon as Becky Sharp is pleasant, but not as good as one might imagine that it could be.  Based on William Makepeace Thackerayís novel of 1848, the movie tells the story of Becky Sharp, the orphaned daughter of an English painter and a French dancer who gets a job as governess to the daughters of a Hampshire baronet Sir Pitt Crawley.  Becky wants to rise socially.  She marries the baronetís younger son, whose rich aunt then changes her will to leave her estate to her brotherís older son who is marrying the daughter of an earl.  The aunt is played by Eileen Atkins in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Dame Edith Evans as Sophie Westernís aunt in Tom Jones.  Becky and her husband live in London on credit, with Becky eventually borrowing a large sum of money from a rakish nobleman who expects Becky to offer him her favors in return.  There is also a subplot involving Beckyís school friend Amelia Sedley and her somewhat unworthy husband and a faithful  friend who is in love with Amelia. 

The script writers apparently tried to incorporate much of the story from the novel, but neglected to offer much in the way of characterization.  Except for Becky, the characters seem like stock figures.  Satire of British society was a key element in Thackerayís novel, but it is sadly missing from the movie, which simply presents a story in a somewhat serious manner.  At times the movie is a little dull, and on the whole it evokes little in the way of emotional response.  Nonetheless, watching the movie was on the whole a pleasant experience.
James Purefoy and Reese Witherspoon in Focus Features' Vanity Fair - 2004 
Rated: PG-13
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The novel