As the story opens in London in 1802, we meet Becky Sharp, a poor but spirited little girl. She is soon orphaned and sent to be a servant in a posh girls' school. She acquires a good education and is determined to climb the social ladder, starting as a governess, then marrying a promising Army officer. She spends the next twenty years relentlessly pursuing her dream of being a lady.
This movie is beautiful and lavish, everything that a good period piece should be. I haven't read the book, so I just enjoyed the movie on its own merits. Reese Witherspoon does a great job with the English accent and plays the Scarlet O'Hara-ish Becky with loads of charm and brains. She really is irresistible as well as formidable, and gives an Oscar-worthy performance. The costumes and sets are opulent, with lots of striking orange fabrics.
There are plenty of ups and downs for Becky and the plot is never dull. I love period movies and this one had all the required triumphs and tragedies,romance and spectacle, to make it very satisfying.