‘Fair’ fizzles at box office

In Film & TV

Focus Features’ “Vanity Fair” is vivacious in
beauty and color, but leaves very little context for its viewers to
understand.

Based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel “Vanity
Fair,” the epic storyline takes place in London in the early
1800s where money determines one’s place in society. Reese
Witherspoon stars as clever Becky Sharp, an impoverished orphan
whose only goal in life is to climb the social ladder, whatever the
cost. Her best friend Amelia (Romola Garai) stands loyally by her
side.

Using her beauty, charm and education as her main sources of
income, Sharp manages to fit in with all the rich hoity-toity
individuals such as the Marquess of Steyne (Gabriel Byrne), soon
discovering that having everything you want doesn’t equal
happiness. Throughout her journey, she encounters enchanting love,
ultimate betrayal and a heartbreaking war that eventually
transforms her from a sweet, innocent girl to a coldhearted gold
digger.

Meanwhile, Amelia instantly captures the heart of the audience with
her compelling voyage of constant torment from her husband’s
family, bitter poverty struggles and utter tragedy, all to end in a
long-awaited finale of true love.

Witherspoon brings to life the character of conniving Becky Sharp,
with her witty comments and outer beauty, revealing to the world
her profound ability to play a frosty bitch. Sharp’s quality
is impossible to ignore or dislike until she begins exposing her
true self, her vain promises and cruel capabilities.

Amelia, however, gains the audience’s sympathy away from
Becky with her genuine warmth and her sad obsession to please those
she loves. People will literally cheer for her when she finally
finds peace.

While the costumes are absolutely vibrant and the scenery lovely to
gaze at, the plot is a struggle understand. Director Mira Nair
tried to fit in as much of the novel as possible, but ended up
creating a choppy film that jumps rapidly from one scene to
another.

The movie’s anecdote resembles a soap opera, spilling with
juicy accounts of oozing lust and much intrigue among the stiff
upper-class, revealing that even the most uppity people want more
than they can ever purchase, especially the desire-driven men who
can’t seem to keep their mouths shut.

The historical aspect is right on target, excluding a few
out-of-place paintings, illuminating Nair’s intelligent skill
of blending century-old literature with modern Hollywood
filming.

“Vanity Fair” is perfectly good fun for the
fashion-obsessed or the historical buffs, but may not be compelling
enough for modern-day adults who crave a more substantial
story.

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