Vanity Fair is based on the 1847 novel by British author William Makepeace Thackeray. It tells the story of young Becky Sharp, a poor orphan who goes from the charity of a boarding school into life as a governeness and professional social climber.
This film is a rich, colorful historical drama that will remind some audiences of Merchant Ivory books-into-film. Vanity Fair is a commentary on the social issues of the era when status was the key to an economically secure marriage for women especially.
The one complaint I have about the film is that it ends too abruptly. We see Becky's choices, her dissatisfaction, her marriage, husband and child, her failures and then we skip ahead several years for a fleeting moment when we see Becky's fatigue with life, a glimpse perhaps of an awareness of her chosen path has led her. But then, well, Becky's final choice does not even seem consistent with her character's development (though the events may coincide with those of the novel; I don't know because I haven't yet finished the book.) Regardless, the film concludes too quickly for it to be a completely satisfactory experience.
But if you are looking for an highly visual film, Vanity Fair would be it.However, I thought Princess Caraboo treated the same subject with more depth and I cared more about the characters.