“In High Society If You Are Prim And Proper And Have All The Appropriate Paperwork To Go With It, Then Society's Doors Are Held Wide Open For You. Not That There Is Anything Behind Those Doors, Really.”
Against such bedraggled antagonists, the older, well-seasoned character actors -- among them Bob Hoskins, Jim Broadbent, and Geraldine McEwan -- come on bright but loud, like gangbusters.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
With its diminished gravitas, this Becky comes across as a lightweight schemer about as formidable as an aspiring trophy wife on a daytime soap.
Stephen Holden - New York Times
By film's end, audiences are bound to be left dissatisfied with the choppy and confusing storytelling style and unhappy about the missed opportunity.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
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.
Michael O'Sullivan - Washington Post
Witherspoon's simply terrific, and it's amazing how quickly and easily she sheds speculation that she was too modern for the role.
Stephen Hunter - Washington Post
A Vanity Fair with a lovable Becky Sharp has no reason to exist. It's as if Shakespeare had put Hamlet on Prozac: What's the point?
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
The pacing feels choppy, and the characters' emotions are sometimes too sudden to be believable.
Leslie Camhi - Village Voice
Crams in so many of the events and characters of Thackeray's 900-page novel that the story often seems to be moving on fast-forward.
Jack Mathews - New York Daily News
Nair navigates narrative waters littered by a shipwreck's worth of detritus; too many characters bob and sink.
Bruce Westbrook - Houston Chronicle
A magnificent viewing experience, with each costume and set capturing the grandeur and squalor of both England and India.
Philip Wuntch - Dallas Morning News
The company (in particular Witherspoon, James Purefoy and Eileen Atkins) is better than pleasant, even when it is behaving badly.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
Peter Rainer - New York Magazine
At the risk of being brutal, I would say that the Witherspoon of Legally Blonde, a far more bubbleheaded picture, was not merely sharper but Sharper than her Becky.
Anthony Lane - New Yorker
The peculiar quality of Vanity Fair, which sets it aside from the Austen adaptations such as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, is that it's not about very nice people. That makes them much more interesting.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Graced with Nair's loving direction, Witherspoon's radiance and that great cast, it is a treat, if somewhat less so than the novel.
Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
The movie has the look and feel of an ornate runaway carriage that cuts its own path through town and country. With Nair at the reins and Witherspoon as the passenger, we are in good hands and spirited company.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
On the whole, Nair has mounted a handsome and intelligent production that holds nothing back.
Jeff Strickler - Minneapolis Star Tribune
A bit stiff and predictable.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Though it's an accomplished production, Vanity Fair ranks as a standard costume drama populated by snide old biddies, aging lords and ladies, manipulative business barons and dashing soldiers.
Bill Muller - Arizona Republic
A less than absorbing adaptation of Thackeray's sprawling but sharp-witted classic.
Andrew Sarris - New York Observer
It's lavish but lulling, and at two hours and 18 minutes, it's something of a bore.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
A collection of intermittent pleasures than a satisfying emotional repast.
Todd McCarthy - Variety
Shoehorning all these characters and plot threads into one film is perhaps overly ambitious, but Nair makes Vanity Fair an elegant showcase for an unforgettable heroine.
Megan Lehmann - New York Post
[Nair] clearly loves these characters, the kind and unkind alike. And the proof of this is that she makes them all so marvelously vivid.
Jay Boyar - Orlando Sentinel
Lively and mostly successful treatment -- at least until the barbs are blunted in the messy third act.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
This might be tolerable if Nair hadn't missed the central point, that Becky Sharp isn't sharp like spice, she's sharp like a razor.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
Scene by scene and moment to moment, it's a woeful misreading of the book.
Charles Taylor - Salon.com
We're left with an increasingly weak-willed protagonist and a narrative with no driving force -- no motor.
David Edelstein - Slate
A charming movie that falls short of greatness, but is still worth a solid recommendation.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
The spirit of that most modern of 19th century heroines, Becky Sharp, remains intact, and Nair's Indian touches make for an intriguing, fresh approach.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
There is no depth beneath its bright surfaces, no potent emotional undercurrents.
Richard Schickel - TIME Magazine
It's one thing to understand Becky -- do we have to love her, too?
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
A never-ending Western story that benefits from Nair's philosophically Eastern point of view.
Carina Chocano - Los Angeles Times
A beautiful adaptation of a literary classic.
Nell Minow - Common Sense Media
From the ostentatious costumes by designer Beatrix Aruna Pasztor ("Wonder Boys") to the annoying male hairstyles that permeate every scene, "Vanity Fair" is a movie that depends on its overall visual effect to hypnotize audiences into overlooking the film
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Yay! England sucks and India is cool! Well, except for that troublesome caste system, of course.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
In Vanity Fair's universe without heroes, shameless central character Becky Sharp would have surely felt supremely at home stuck on Temptation Island, or in the boardroom of The Apprentice.
Prairie Miller - Long Island Press
To our utter delight, these stories and messages are told with superb acting, amazing costumes that burst with color and texture, and dazzling locales.
Camerin Courtney - Christianity Today
Dean Essner - Empire Magazine
Dean Essner - Time Out
Es una solida adaptacion de la novela de Thackeray por la que bien vale la pena pagar el boleto.
Jorge Avila Andrade - Moviola
Becky's adept maneuvering through upper society's pitfalls is sometimes muddled from too many characters and too little explanation, but Witherspoon remains fun to watch...
Mark Pfeiffer - Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Stuart Klawans - Nation
Stuart Klawans - The Nation
Not at all the stiff costume drama bore I thought this movie was going to be.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Witherspoon is the only thing that kept me watching Vanity Fair even as my eyelids morphed into anvils.
Staci Layne Wilson - Fantastica Daily
Dean Essner - BBC
Michelle Thomas - Future Movies UK
Lacking a character we really care about, we're left floundering in a mud puddle of human misbehavior. [But] the performances are all impressive.
Jeffrey Overstreet - Looking Closer
Michael Szymanski - Zap2it.com
As Vanity Fair rests unsteadily between floral elegance and grim satire, Mira Nair's auteurist touches keep it engaging as it fails to get a grip on Thackeray's scope.
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
In Vanity Fair, Witherspoon presents a complex character beautifully, even when her character's choices vastly depart from her own values.
Jordan Hiller - Bangitout.com
Reese Witherspoon is miscast in this poor adaptation of the popular novel.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Even though the central stories are compelling, dividing the film between them means we never have anyone to grab hold of.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
It has all the feel of a clone.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
Dean Essner - Sunday Times (Australia)
I knew Scarlett O'Hara and you, Ms Witherspoon, are no Scarlett O'Hara
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
The director's vision seems as obstructed by affectation as the vision of the classist characters in her film.
Mark Collette - Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)
Reese's piece certainly looks good, it's just not terribly engaging.
David N. Butterworth - Movie Boeuf
Although long and disjointed, with characters...from Gone With the Wind, and burdened by (terrible) audio..., Vanity Fair is an entertaining film that held my interest.
Tony Medley - tonymedley.com
Nair... revels in Thackeray's lampooning of genteel class warfare...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Told against a lush and vast canvas, Mira Nair's Vanity Fair is one of the very best movies of the year.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
The film gives a panoramic view of life in the 19th century and provides an enjoyable movie going experience.
Vince Koehler - Entertainment Spectrum
robs the story of some of its sharper edges, turning Thackery's greedy, avarice-ridden social climber into an updated rags-to-riches romantic fantasy
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
It hurts your fanny in the end.
Eric Lurio - Greenwich Village Gazette
Ah, to be young, bright, and scheming in 19th century Britain!
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Vanity Fair nearly tanks due to Nair's anti-Brit slant. Long live the Reese!
Jimmy O - Film Snobs
A few cast members bring a scene or two alive, but Vanity Fair is mostly mismanaged.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
...after a promising start, it eventually settles into repeating the same scene over and over again.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
However flawed Nair's film may be, it still has so many rewards to offer that it almost seems petty to complain about its problems.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
More daring, more unexpected, and more thoroughly alive than anything this stuffy genre has seen since Gosford Park
Jeannette Catsoulis - Las Vegas Mercury
...this post-modern version of Vanity Fair has a surfeit of humor and some delightful surprises
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
If you had any idea how horrible this book is, you would love how wonderfully this film came out.
Karina Montgomery - Cinerina
Glenn Kenny - Premiere Magazine
Dean Essner - Film Threat
What it needs is more emphasis on the 'vanity' and less on the 'fair.'
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
Vanity Fair's first hour is its most potent but then the film succumbs to one too many melodramatic turns before wrapping up its story -- and characters -- in a too neat bow.
Shlomo Schwartzberg - Boxoffice Magazine
This is a middling venture destined for English lit courses.
Erica Abeel - Film Journal International
Emily Blunt - Blunt Review
Dean Essner - Boston Phoenix
Tony Toscano - Talking Pictures (U.S.)
I found it too slow and too long.
Jean Lowerison - San Diego Metropolitan
not a picture that will satisfy Thackeray fanatics... but it does serve as an admirable showcase for Witherspoon. ...The sparkle fades in the second hour, however...
James Sanford - Kalamazoo Gazette
In the center of Nair's dizzying, polychromatic social swirl stands Witherspoon's irrepressible Becky, and the film rises and falls on her well-shaped shoulders.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Vanity Fair is a lush, lavish production that preserves Thackeray's acid sketches of British society in upheaval...
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
`Sweet Home England' this is not.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
Well-paced, colorful and with a superb supporting cast, the pluses outweight the minuses in this "Fair."
Boo Allen - Denton Record Chronicle (TX)
More or less a vanity project for Reese Witherspoon, Mira Nair's adaptation of the great William Makepeace Thackeray novel is long and legally bland.
Thomas Delapa - Boulder Weekly
Even though it's a valiant effort, Vanity Fair just lacks the necessary talent and oomph to propel it to the level of an elegant, entertaining English period piece.
Kit Bowen - Hollywood.com
Perhaps Oscar voters will find something to love here (perhaps some intriguing costume designs), but for the rest of us, Vanity Fair is a snooze.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A lively retelling of William Makepeace Thackeray's classic tale.
Karen Karbo - Oregonian
Witherspoon is solid in this adaptation, but Nair's direction is what makes it more than just petticoats and plotting.
James Rocchi - Netflix
Those willing to commit themselves, sit back, and take in all the film can offer should find the experience very rewarding.
Jeff Otto - IGN Movies
Nair's turgid, melodramatic travesty of Thackeray's gimlet-eyed satire.
Ron Stringer - L.A. Weekly
Witherspoon dishes out disarming charm and surprisingly effective vulnerability. It's a performance worthy of Academy Award consideration.
Larry Ratliff - San Antonio Express-News
It's a frequently enjoyable picture, less intimate than director Mira Nair's previous Monsoon Wedding but a good deal livelier than star Reese Witherspoon's last Brit-lit outing, the flaccid The Importance of Being Earnest.
Steve Schneider - Orlando Weekly
What's missing from this Vanity Fair is the sense of plucky, anything-goes adventurousness that abounds in Thackeray's novel.
David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor
Even with a running time of more than 2 hours, this kind of condensation means we race through the story's second half in a time warp not aided by Nair's garish, out-of-nowhere and out-of-place Indian interludes.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
Witherspoon seems unwilling to give Becky Sharp the intensity she needs.
Audrey Rock-Richardson - Tooele Transcript-Bulletin (Utah)
The movie isn't Cliffs Notes, so much as it is a fast-food drive-thru for a classic novel. Beautifully filmed and its costumes are seamless, though the story's not.
Nick Rogers - State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)
Seems to be less an adapatation of the classic 19th-century novel by William Makepeace Thackeray and more of an adaptation of the magazine that bears the same title.
Peter Sobczynski - Critic Doctor
"Vanity Fair is to Reese Witherspoon as "Erin Brockovich" was to Julia Roberts – only with a much better wardrobe.
Marcy Dermansky - About.com
Vanity Fair is an ambitious film that seems at times to mistrust its own reach, but for all its flaws, makes for a worthy start to the painfully long awards season.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
A highly satisfying period-style soap opera with heaving bosoms, elaborate hairdos and a sweeping look at history.
Paul Clinton (CNN.com) - CNN.com
Starts with energetic glee, but, by the end, it's mocking itself more than skewering society.
Phil Villarreal - Arizona Daily Star
if the class struggles of the corseted clans are your thing, then Fair is a decently-acted and good looking film that's worth your time and money
Sean O'Connell - Filmcritic.com
Mira Nair and writer Julian Fellowes reestablish Thackery's sense of melodrama, but cannot fully recapture the novel's social criticism.
Jeffrey Westhoff - Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
It doesn't do justice to Thackeray's most famous novel.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
What might work powerfully on the page comes off on the screen as not terribly interesting.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Showing up in what amounts to cinematic cameos, India absolutely blows 19th century England away. It made me wish more of the tale took place there.
Jeffrey Chen - Window to the Movies
Although the episodic nature sometimes gets in the way of narrative propulsion, the lively characters -- and the hypocrisies they inadvertently champion -- remain watchable.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
The main trouble with softening Becky is that after a certain point she no longer makes sense: Thackeray's plot eventually requires her to act in ways that are entirely at odds with Nair's more heroic conception of Becky.
Ken Fox - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Thackeray's readers could not help but root for his 'I'm no angel Becky,' but there's nothing to care for in this overblown production.
Donald J. Levit - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Plays only marginally livelier than your average Masterpiece Theatre epic.
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
Trying to adapt a lengthy period novel is always a bit ambitious and you end up skimming the surface of the story - visually, it's stunning but a bit heavy on the melodrama.
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
Mira Nair's keen eye and artistic flair are abundantly evident in this lush screen adaptation.
Jeanne Aufmuth - Palo Alto Weekly
A feel-good gift to moderns, yet why not feel so good? Thackeray, and his Becky, would have relished it.
David Elliott - San Diego Union-Tribune
This Becky is a bawdier, lustier woman who, by giving us a character who aspires to be that which she already is by nature, peppers this humorously raw telling with a weightier conflict, conscience and irony.
Paula Nechak - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thackeray's lumbering, episodic narrative rarely comes to life. Even Witherspoon's trademark perkiness seems muted and dulled.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
Beyond the performances, it's Nair's vision that makes Vanity Fair appealing. The production is stunning, with evocative location shooting.
Jack Garner - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
The satire is sharply observed and the performances acutely felt, most of all Witherspoon's.
Bruce Newman - San Jose Mercury News
The shuffle of historical events and supporting characters gets a bit exhausting, and you notice a few performers ... left with little to do.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
Nair's ambitions get the best of her, and poison the clarity of her vision.
Brian Orndorf - FilmJerk.com
As a film, Vanity Fair has a lot going for it -- including acting and energy.
John Anderson - Newsday
No longer a biting, satirical jab at 19th century English society but a somewhat soppy soap opera about social climbing and romance.
Connie Ogle - Miami Herald
This sprawling novel has too many characters, too many locations and covers too much time to be successfully crammed into a feature-length film.
Mary F. Pols - Contra Costa Times
(CNN.com) Paul Clinton - CNN.com
Much like its conniving heroine: witty, frequently charming, but not quite up to snuff.
Timothy Knight - Reel.com
It's executed poorly, with a lack of energy and spark.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Instead of a sly critique of hypocrisy and pretense in all social classes, the film is a stodgy, unremarkable costume drama with all the bite of a poodle.
Lisa Rose - Newark Star-Ledger
Nair, who also directed Monsoon Wedding, has trouble juggling all the characters here, but she brings to Vanity Fair some of her previous film's zest for life.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
In the end, Nair is no match for Thackeray, whose thesis that Becky was a victim of circumstances, to which she added bad judgment like insult to injury, remains persuasive despite attempts to improve on it.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
An honorable failure. Nair's warm humanism is a poor match for Thackeray's misanthropic tendencies
makes the mistake of trying to turn the story into a crowd-pleaser.
Steven D. Greydanus - Decent Films Guide
A lot of things happen, all of it fairly absorbing, some of it rendered vividly.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
How do you chop a 900-page book about social climbing down into a two-hour star vehicle? By distracting audiences with that adorable Reese Witherspoon and some amazing costumes, that's how.
Dean Essner - E! Online
Sounds and looks as handsome as any Masterpiece Theatre miniseries.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
A pared-down but wonderfully cluttered rendition of Thackeray's work, beautifully acted by a dream troupe of performers.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
Few other young actresses can jut out their jaw in ambitious determination as charmingly as Witherspoon -- and remain sympathetic.
Joe Baltake - Sacramento Bee
As evidence of Reese Witherspoon's maturation, it is a revelation.
Bruce Kirkland - Jam! Movies
[Nair] has achieved a near-miracle of literary transmutation, taking a supremely rich, complicated and clear-eyed 19th century novel and turning it into a coherent and highly entertaining movie.
Chauncey Mabe - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
A catastrophe! Reese Witherspoon's bad acting turns Becky Sharp into Becky Stupid.
Phil Hall - Film Threat
Witherspoon takes on the movie the way Becky takes on the world, with oceans of sheer star quality to dazzle and beguile. Resistance is futile.
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
...demands too many abrupt about-faces for characters who are given episodic screen time to make epic evolutions
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Watching it is the equivalent of investing ten million dollars at 0.2% interest.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Nair's least persuasive film, in part because Becky has been reimagined as such a modern, proto-feminist heroine that she sometimes seems advanced beyond her environment...
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Opulent yet bland, never venturing below the veneer of its story
Susan Granger - www.susangranger.com
A 'Vanity Fair' with a half-realized Becky Sharp is, in the end, a Vanity Unsatisfactory.
Arthur Lazere - culturevulture.net
This exquisite screen adaptation of Thackeray's 1847 morality play has great relevance to our time when envy and efforts to make it into the Winning Class are widespread.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Unfortunately (Witherspoon) fails to inspire much sympathy for the novel's cunning, charmingly conniving, social-climbing heroine.
Rob Blackwelder - SPLICEDWire
Like her heroine, [Nair's] movie bewitches, but lacks bite.
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Chock-full of praiseworthy performances and impeccably directed by Nair, the film's flaw is that there's something standoffishness about the whole production.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
Witherspoon is not really a girl who flaunts sexuality; she is more of a prepster's pinup, akin to her persona in Election as opposed to say Kathleen Turner in Body Heat.
Susan Michals - FilmStew.com
Dull and mostly lifeless... leaving viewers with little but a series of pretty pictures of pretty actors in pretty costumes.
Edward Havens - FilmJerk.com
Aaw, the exquisite dullness of bourgeois cinema, so intensely preoccupied with period detail, solemn men and pale girls.
Kevin N. Laforest - Montreal Film Journal
Vanity Fair is a timeless story about life lived, and a skewering of upper class society. Am I less of a man for falling in love with this female friendly movie?
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
Not unpleasant in a bland Masterpiece Theatre way, but not very faithful to its astringent source either...easy to sit through but not particularly engaging.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
Very nice piece of work.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Taking a cue from Thackeray's spry, witty, self-referential narration, Indian director Nair emphasizes the allusions to her native country...as a land of exotic escape...
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
A tedious period piece without a cutting edge.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
a lush, sprawling, sensual film that totters unevenly under the weight of its own ambition . . . an apt metaphor considering that its heroine has the same Achilles Heel.
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Lush costumes and gorgeous sets highlight this tale of 19th century social climber, Becky Sharp.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
With a novel of such length, you either have to make a miniseries or adapt it more ruthlessly.
Carlo Cavagna - AboutFilm.com
Lovely to look at with a sardonic look at class warfare.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Mira Nair mistakenly makes the conniving Becky a symbol of modern feminist pluckiness.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine
Like The House of Mirth -- more so, when you think about both pictures being headed by amber-haired actresses who are in way over their heads.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
This film, which aims to expose the banal reality behind the grande facade of high society, itself proves to have no depth.
Dan Jardine - Apollo Guide