Saturday, September 4, 2010

In Haste: Vanity Fair

 What does she want?

Despite its quick-witted, 19th century Gilmore Girlsesque tongue, I found Mira Nair's 2004 adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's (weird middlename!) Vanity Fair a trying experience.

I shall ask this: was India really the answer?  Is that sufficient?  Perhaps I'm struggling with some form of gender gap here, because (among other things) I just can't seem to grasp what tone the ending is supposed to leave in my mouth.  It's like sprinkling that 'magic powder product' on stuff that makes sour things taste sweet, and sweet things taste sour.  My taste buds are left all jingle-jangily!

Again, what does she want?  I never know.  All I ever wanted for the darling Becky Sharp was for her and her best friend to be happy.  They seemed like reasonable people that saw the hypocrisy of their high-tea roccoco society.  Or were they?...

I can't trust that faceness.

I found the upstart of the film fascinating, in that Miss Sharp's 'Save the Cat' moment occurs while she is but a small child.  We are intrinsically drawn to this little lady, who is not only a cunningly intelligent orphan, but has an acute sense of reasonableness, daringness, and loyaltyness (Today is a day for everythingness!).  All good things.  The trouble is, however, the next time we meet this Miss Becky Sharp, she is all grown up.  Is she, at her core, the same child of God, holding within her that uniquely strong, moral core?  I was never sure.

Though we are never spoon-fed another 'Save the Cat' moment, Reese Witherspoon's heroine seems to remain remarkably sinless throughout the first act of the film (even into the second!).  Then, somewhere along the way, we see that she has not any portion of love to share with her son.  My goodness woman, why is this (this lovelessness!)?

The novelty and perhaps ultimate demise of "Vanity Fair" for me is the lack of insight we are given about the inner workings of our lead protagonist.  If I'm to spend 140 minutes with this woman, I want to know if I should trust her (trustfulness).  The mystique of not knowing is prescient, sure, but that ambiguity also keeps me from fully thrusting myself into Miss Sharp's world.  My walls were never disarmed.

And India?  Was she not just exchanging one exotic backdrop with another?  Will this make her happy, finally?  What does she want?

P.S. Thank the good Lord for Bob Hoskins.  That man is ever so watchable.  I'm into Hoskinsness.  I dig that.

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