When Becky Sharp, an orphaned daughter of a poverty stricken London family, leaves school, she finds that her intellect and charm attracts opportunity towards her that is reserved for the upper class of old British society. Will she fit in, or be found out for who she really is?
Gabriel Byrne, Reese Witherspoon, Romola Garai, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, James Purefoy, Bob Hoskins, Jim Broadbent, Geraldine McEwan
Becky Sharp is a poor orphan who is sent to school when her father, a painter, dies. She spends her years at school getting a good education but being treated like a slave, and when she comes to leave with her best friend Amelia, she is full of confidence that her knowledge is better than that of her teachers. Her intellect gets her far, with the brother of Amelia, a tradesmen who spends much of his time in India, becomes besotted by her. He is warned off of her social inadequacy by George, the boyfriend of Amelia who is in the army in these times of the Napoleonic wars. But Becky’s star rises when she goes to teach at the house of Sir Pitt’s, and his rich aunt sees Becky’s intellect and takes her under her wing. Becky then meets her nephew, Rawdon Crawley, who becomes besotted with her, and behind his family’s back they get married. But Becky’s rise in society is not abated by the marriage to, and so when the Napoleonic war enters Brussels, there’s uncomfortable truths Becky, Amelia and all the characters must face.
The Case For
A great little cast line up, with James Purefoy smouldering in his role as Becky’s suitor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers being a self-indulgent pain in the backside to all and sundry and Rhys Ifans being a loveable, smitten soldier.
The Case Against
Reece Witherspoon is generally a good actress, but she doesn’t hold the imagination or attention in this film. But her aside, the worst thing is the flicking around, with little real explanation as to who people are, what importance they have, and as a a result, apart from a couple of characters, the chronology of their lives means little.
What could have been a delightful film has unfortunately become a boring drag. Quite often I was tempted to give up watching, only to be reeled back in to find out what happened to some of the characters. What problem was an intriguing book has been an injustice by the disjointedness of the film.
What could have been an interesting movie, littered with quality cast, is ultimately let down by the lack of warmth most of the characters have, the overload of characters in it, and the slow pace of the film. For hardcore fans of the 19th century novel only I expect.