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Vanity Fair Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Thackeray said that he wanted "to leave everybody dissatisfied and unhappy at the end of the story." Nair may have had other intentions, but by film's end, audiences are bound to be left dissatisfied with the choppy and confusing storytelling style and unhappy about the missed opportunity.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal

    Despite the curry flavoring Ms. Nair has seen fit to add, this is a Vanity Fair without spice.

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    It borders on perky -- a duller, safer tonal choice for the story of a conniving go-getter whose fall is as precipitous as her rise.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    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.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Lovely literary adaptation with class issues, battle scenes.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adaptation of the classic Thackeray story Vanity Fair has a small amount of battlefield violence, including a field lined with dead bodies. The English class system is paramount to the plot of the story, and characters make bigoted remarks both about the "lower classes" and about people of color. Some characters are killed in battle, while others die suddenly; a child is left orphaned by the death of both of her parents. Expect adultery plus many veiled references to sex, couched in so much old-fashioned language that kids are unlikely to get them. Viewers see a woman's backside in a non-sexual situation. There is some social drinking at parties, and some characters act slightly drunk.

  • Families can talk about the priorities and choices of the characters, especially Becky, Amelia, and Dobbin. What will happen to Becky next? Thackeray ends the book by saying, "which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? Or, having it, is satisfied?" How would you answer those questions with regard to the characters in the story?
  • Can you think of any other movies adapted from books? Which are your favorites?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: British class issues lie at the heart of this story, and its characters seldom question the class system or if those who benefit from it are worthy. Husbands and wives are often unfaithful to each other in this film, though viewers also see the consequences of the adultery.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Becky Sharp herself is given a more sympathetic spin in this film adaptation of Thackeray's classic novel, so she is an easier character to root for, with more understandable motivations.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Some characters are killed and others die, both offscreen. There is a scuffle and one character falls downstairs, but gets up, seemingly uninjured. A man attempts to force himself on a woman sexually. There are a few scenes set on a battlefield and the viewer sees a field covered with dead bodies.

  • sex false2

    Sex: There are plenty of references to sex, but most of them are so veiled they'll go right over kid's heads. We see a character's nude backside as she stands up quickly from a bath. Adultery is a theme.

  • language false1

    Language: No cursing, a reference to brothels, and arcane insults like "he has the charm of an undertaker and the humor of a corpse." There is also a racial insult directed at a woman of color.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: At a party guests drink glasses of wine and some characters occasionally act slightly drunk.