The Bonfire of the Vanities


Time Out says

De Palma's film of Tom Wolfe's dark, hilarious magnum opus bombed in the States - amid charges of racism - and it's easy to see why. It's norra lorra laffs. Wolfe's book about the inhabitants of the Big Bad Apple has a Dickensian scope and a Faustian dynamic: 'What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole, but lose his soul?' His view of an ethnic pressure-cooker society is ironic and caustic but even-handed. In the movie, simplification and scaling down - plus significant changes in ethnicity - lose the balance. In a twin-track movie, we watch dipso journo Peter Fallow (Willis) - who narrates - rise as adulterous Wall Street trader Sherman McCoy (Hanks) falls. Fallow is put onto a story: a poor Bronx black is a near-fatal hit-and-run casualty. The car turns out to be McCoy's Mercedes - scoop! - and the jackals descend. What De Palma delivers is merely a mediocre yuppy nightmare movie, stylistically flashy but with little pace, bite or pathos. As usual with De Palma, the woman gets shafted (here Griffith as McCoy's mistress). If anything, it's a Hanks 'little boy lost' movie, more in the Big tradition than The Big Tradition.


Release details

125 mins

Cast and crew

Brian De Palma
Michael Cristofer
Tom Hanks
Bruce Willis
Melanie Griffith
Kim Cattrall
Saul Rubinek
Morgan Freeman
F Murray Abraham
John Hancock
Kevin Dunn
Clifton James
André Gregory
Robert Stephens
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