Roush Review: ‘Vanity Fair’ Welcomes Us to a World of Conniving, Pompous Tomfoolery


With a smirk aimed directly at the camera, Olivia Cooke vibrantly inhabits what little soul the ruthlessly opportunistic Becky Sharp possesses in this irreverent seven-part adaptation of the Thackeray classic, Vanity Fair.

Imagine a PBS Masterpiece seen through a snarky Gossip Girl filter, with Monty Python’s Michael Palin (as the author) welcoming us to a world of conniving, pompous tomfoolery “where everyone is striving for what is not worth having.”

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From 'Good Omens' to 'Watchmen.'

It’s a colorful and proudly shallow wallow in bad behavior and high melodrama, once cunning orphan Becky insinuates herself into the posh home of her generous but naive friend Amelia (simpering Claudia Jessie), and unwisely elopes with a dashing soldier, Rawdon Crawley (Tom Bateman). There are so many reversals of fortune, even before the battle of Waterloo, that the head spins as the hours fly.

Becky’s adversaries, including Frances de la Tour as a dying dowager and Anthony Head as a wealthy lech, are so awful she seems almost heroic in her seductive resilience. Fair play, Becky.

Vanity Fair, Series Premiere, Friday, Dec. 21, Amazon Prime Video