Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Vanity Fair" {The Movie for the Historical Romance Guild}

Due, to a slight one day getaway I missed the opportunity to watch a movie I marked as interesting enough for this issue of movie week, so I will cramp up two reviews in one day, because I make up the rules and I can bend them. A certain fascination with the past has been present in today's society and it especially concentrates on the period of Entglish splendor mainly during the 18th and 19th century. Jane Austin and the Brontes, thank you very much for raising enourmes dresses, fashionable suits and tongue-in-cheek conversations to Hollywood stardom.

This being said, I am moving on to the topic of this post “Vanity Fair” from 2004, one of the numerous adaptations of the novel “Vanity Fair” aimed to criticize society from the beginning of the 19th century. We have the usual suspects: the poor, yet confident girl trying to be accepted into society Rebecca Sharp (Reese Witherspoon); her noble blooded, stunning husband, deemed to be too good for her Colonel Rawdon Crawley (James Purefoy) and the whole British society, playing hard to get at some point (the other cast).

Becky Sharp has a very unfitting part for her to become an amiable and agreeable part of society with a father starving artist and a mother an opera singer, both deceased, leaving her to grow up at a school for girls. When it is time for her to leave, she goes to work as a governess at the Crawley family run by the careless Sir Pitt (Bob Hoskins), which seems to be living in a pretty run down manor. Under her care the manor looks like a palace and Sir Pitt’s daughters shape into ladies. But fate has other plans, when Becky meets Sir Pitt’s half-sister and spinster Miss Crawley (Eileen Atkins) and his younger son Rawdon. Becky managed to gain Miss Crawley’s favor and sets with her to London, where she marries Rawdon secretly and thus is shunned with him from the family. From here on we trace Becky’s way of rises and falls as she struggles with life. We see how her marriage fells, her husband dies, her child is taken away from her and how her friendship with her best friend Amelia Sedley (Romola Garai) falls apart as well.

The movie is as long as it is complex in the spirit of the Victorian vibe, although I am not quite sure, if that time period falls into that era, just hitting at blind. Following that tradition we see a parallel depiction of the Sedley family as they go bankrupt and Amelia’s marriage to George Osborn (Jonathan Rhys Meyers); the countless admirers for Becky’s heart or bed and the typical jumps through time.

As a whole the movie was a pleasurable experience as it entertains with the easy air of comedy and the typical mentioned above tongue-in-cheek quality. Being a fan of that time period and works of this genre and in this tradition I felt lost in the intrigue considering class, the witty conversations and the grandeur of the costumes. However this is not one of those movies, which you will remember for the rest of your life. Even though the actor’s play stood on a high note with big names and talent, the whole production didn’t strike as memorable.

However this is a skillfully directed production with enough Guild members for your entertainment, so a chance has to be given, although critics say it’s average and my opinion somewhat overlaps with that. The usual trailer applies.

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