29 April 2005 | pocca
Far superior to the Witherspoon vanity project
Generally I think that the great Victorian door-stoppers are better suited to the mini series format than that of feature films because even with a running time pushed to three hours there just isn't the room for the typical panorama of characters, supporting characters, plots and subplots. Even this production unavoidably leaves much out, but it captures the essence of Thackeray--cold eyed cynicism very occasionally softened by generosity. Nearly every element worked, right down to the snorting pig that appeared at the beginning of each new installment. I admit at first I was a bit disappointed by the choice of Natasha Little to play Rebecca because I thought the actress was too tall and elegant to play a character who was described as petite and vivacious. But no matter; Little's cool headedness, verbal wit, and carefully disguised ruthlessness were all pure Becky (unlike Mira Nair, the screenwriters of this production realized that to soften this character's harder edges wouldn't modernize her; rather, it would flatten her). Frances Grey does fine in in the thankless role of Amelia Sedley. Although this was somewhat out of keeping with the novel, I did like the scene of Amelia still in bed after her wedding night, her hair spread out on the pillow, blissfully talking to her new husband. It makes her seem a bit more than stupidly devoted child-woman she is for most of the novel and makes those later scenes in which Becky and George (just weeks after George's marriage) brazenly flirt in front of Amelia all the more painful. The other characters are well cast too, with the terrifying Lord Steyne being the most memorable of all--in his final scene, without having to say a word he looks as if he really will have Becky murdered without a second thought if she ever approaches him again.
All in all, highly recommended.