Vanity Fair is not a movie I would pick up off a shelf and just watch. It looks much too...suspicious...for that. But at the third recommendation of a very good friend of mine, I decided to give it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised.
The heroine of the movie is Rebecca "Becky" Sharp. She's a social climber, but not an unlikeable one. She's smart, witty, beautiful...and genuine. That was what made the movie more than just a soap opera or a tragedy...Becky is real. Her heart isn't made of stone, although she hardens as she matures. She's human though, and makes mistakes, but is forced to pay for them. And Reese Witherspoon does a fantastic job of portraying her.
The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. It is a rather large cast, though, so I'd only recommend this film to those who can follow complicated social plots and are prepared to think about things afterwards.
As I said to one of my friends, this is like Jane Austen on hormones. It is set against the backdrop of war and thus brings harsher realities than Austen's heroines deal with.
What I also enjoyed was that I couldn't predict everything. The romances are just as complicated as those in real life, with multiple triangles weaving in and out of the story. And the ending is somewhat unexpected, though not unsatisfying. Most importantly, it is realistic.
The main theme of the story is social position vs. true love. Not surprisingly it makes the strong point that our loved ones are far more important than social position. Perhaps that doesn't seem directly applicable to our lives today, and yet I think we can all understand how temperal things of the world can overshadow more important, eternal things such as faith, hope and love.
I'm pretty much just throwing out thoughts here...I don't have a concrete thesis that I'm writing this with, but I thought this movie was too interesting NOT to write something about. I think it's worth watching. However, it is rated PG-13 for good reason. It's definetely an adult movie, with the sensuality being about the same as Phantom of the Opera but the themes being more mature. Still, I will note that it wasn't as "adult contented" as I expected it to be, and if you're into period films with deeper themes, this one is a good one to watch.