Vanity Fair


Vanity Fair

Critics Consensus

A more likable Becky Sharp makes for a less interesting movie.



Total Count: 171


Audience Score

User Ratings: 48,716
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Movie Info

The daughter of a starving English artist and a French chorus girl, Becky is orphaned at a young age. Even as a child, she yearns for a more glamorous life than her birthright promises. As she leaves Miss Pinkerton's Academy at Chiswick, Becky resolves to conquer English society by any means possible. She deploys all of her wit, guile, and sexuality as she makes her way up into high society during the first quarter of the 19th century. Becky's ascension to the heights of society commences when she gains employment as governess to the daughters of eccentric Sir Pitt Crawley. Becky wins over the children, and the Crawley family's rich spinster Aunt Matilda as well. The rural Hampshire household comes to find her indispensable, and Matilda comes to confide in the bright young woman. But Becky knows that she cannot be a true part of English society until she moves to the city. When Matilda invites her to come live in London, Becky eagerly accepts. There, Becky is reunited with her best friend Amelia Sedley, who-having grown up comfortably--does not share Becky's more brazen ambitions. Hewing close to the family she already knows so well, Becky secretly marries dashing heir Rawdon Crawley but when Matilda discovers their union, she casts the newlyweds out. When Napoleon invades Europe, Rawdon bravely reports to the front lines. Pregnant Becky stands by distraught newlywed Amelia, whose own husband George Osborne is also called to fight. When George does not survive the Battle of Waterloo, Becky's friendship with Amelia is strained beyond repair. Becky is reunited with Rawdon and gives birth to a boy, but, post-war, money and comforts are sparse for the trio. More intent than ever on gaining acceptance into London society and living well, Becky finds a patron in the powerful Marquess of Steyne. Steyne's whims enable Becky to realize her dreams, but the ultimate cost may be too high for her.


Reese Witherspoon
as Becky Sharp
James Purefoy
as Rawdon Crawley
Rhys Ifans
as William Dobbin
Romola Garai
as Amelia Sedley
Eileen Atkins
as Miss Matilda Crawley
Jim Broadbent
as Mr. Osborne
Bob Hoskins
as Sir Pitt Crawley
Tony Maudsley
as Joseph Sedley
Gabriel Byrne
as The Marquess of Steyne
Geraldine McEwan
as Lady Southdown
Deborah Findlay
as Mrs. Sedley
Douglas Hodge
as Pitt Crawley
Angelica Mandy
as Young Becky
Roger Lloyd-Pack
as Francis Sharp
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
as George Osborne
Ruth Sheen
as Miss Pinkerton
Lillete Dubey
as Ms. Green
Kate Fleetwood
as Miss Pinkerton's Crone
Lillette Dubey
as Ms. Green
David Sterne
as Queen's Crawley Mail Coach Driver
Meg Wynn Owen
as Lady Crawley
Megan Owen
as Lady Crawley
Georgina Edmonds
as Young Rose Crawley
Emilie Richardson
as Young Celia Crawley
Tim Preece
as Horrocks
Natasha Little
as Lady Jane Sheepshanks
Kathryn Drysdale
as Rhoda Swartz
Kelly Hunter
as Lady Steyne
Alexandra Staden
as Lady George
Tim Seely
as Doctor
Sophie Hunter
as Maria Osborne
Paul Bentall
as Coalman
Sean McKenzie
as Auctioneer
John Woodvine
as Lord Bareacres
Barbara Leigh-Hunt
as Lady Bareacres
Nicholas Jones
as Lord Darlington
Sian Thomas
as Lady Darlington
Trevor Cooper
as General Tufto
Brian Pettifer
as Mr. Raggles
Steven Elder
as Curzon Street Footman
Gabrielle Lloyd
as Nursemaid
Daniel Hay
as Georgy
Niall O'Brien
as Mr. Moss
Anu Gopalakrishnan
as Desert Beauty
Tom Beard
as Officer
Roma Edmonds
as Rose Crawley
Gledis Cimque
as Celia Crawley
Grant Thomas
as Little Pitt
Jonny Phillips
as Mr. Wenham
Veerendra Saxena
as Coventry Island Man
Bruce MacKinnon
as Casino Boy
Matthew Horne
as Casino Boy
Tim Bentinck
as German Official
Andrew Shepard Price
as Casino Stranger
Tom Sturridge
as Young Georgy
Chloe Treend
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Stefane Sauer
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Nicole Forbes
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Amanda Courtney Davies
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Louise Weekley
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Lene Langgaard
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Sarah Mogg
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Tracey Lushington
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Sandy Borne
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Stephanie McMillan
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Suzanne Thomas
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Mari Baade
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
K. Knight
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
Sylvano Clarke
as `Slave Dance' Dancer
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News & Interviews for Vanity Fair

Critic Reviews for Vanity Fair

All Critics (171) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (87) | Rotten (84)

  • This Vanity Fair delights the eye, but Nair may be too much the humanist for her own good: she hasn't the instinct for the kill.

    Mar 13, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • It's lavish but lulling, and at two hours and 18 minutes, it's something of a bore.

    Sep 10, 2004 | Full Review…

    Rex Reed

    Top Critic
  • A less than absorbing adaptation of Thackeray's sprawling but sharp-witted classic.

    Sep 10, 2004 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Top Critic
  • Scene by scene and moment to moment, it's a woeful misreading of the book.

    Sep 4, 2004 | Full Review…
  • Witherspoon moves director Mira Nair's version of Thackeray's social satire forward at a good clip, making Becky's rising and falling fortunes an intensely watchable spectator sport.

    Sep 3, 2004 | Full Review…
  • There is no depth beneath its bright surfaces, no potent emotional undercurrents.

    Sep 3, 2004 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Vanity Fair

  • May 26, 2012
    [img][/img] It's period set pieces are designed pretty well, the costume design is imaginative, and technically, Vanity Fair is kind of excellent. However, i'm not sure if i'm the only one who saw this but Reese Witherspoon's performance is a bit of a mixed bag, sometimes she acts convincingly, but in the more dramatic moments she tends to crack slightly. Also her character, Becca Sharp, like many have said is supposedly dislikable, even if the film managed to make her that way she still wouldn't be that interesting. Mainly due to it's incoherent uncertain style of storytelling. In addition the ending is highly unclimatic and as a whole, the film is just too long. It's not terrible because there are some good supporting performances, such as Tony Maudsley's, but it's often quite dull and lifeless and suffers from various sub plots and a bloated amount of unnecessary characters.
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 04, 2011
    Of course I liked this costume drama. Reese Witherspoon is effortless in her portrayal of Becky Sharp. I am becoming a real fan of director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding), who captures the role India played in the British imagination at the time. I quite like the more positive view of Becky Sharp and other characters. Character faults can be understandable. My only complaint is that the movie dumbed down the book with regard to the relationship with the Marquess of Steyne. She would have had to do more than smile at him to make up for his favour! Nonetheless an enjoyable romp if you are into period pieces.
    Juli R Super Reviewer
  • Apr 30, 2011
    Yuck, just yuck. Long, dull, boring, ridiculous. So much does not make sense about this movie it's ludicrous why Mira Nair would decide to set part of in India. I know part of this is Thackeray's problem and not Nair's, but...seriously?
    Jennifer X Super Reviewer
  • Feb 19, 2010
    Over 2 hours and 20 minutes of intrigue and real life drama is easy to follow only if you're a historical movie fan... but Mira Nair makes you become one if you're not! Solid work!
    Panta O Super Reviewer

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