I watched most of Cousin Bette last night and just finished it. I thought it was awful. It's supposed to be a satire but it fell completely flat. I read the book, which I didn't particularly care for but which provided a lot of cultural context and was just richer. Elizabeth Shue was atrocious, completely miscast. You just could not see her appeal; she was cold and indifferent and also kind of seemed clunky and graceless. It didn't make sense that all Paris would be at her feet. And the bedroom comedy aspect of it didn't play off either. Jessica Lange gave a good performance. But not that good. Basically there were no likable characters and the plot moved on meaninglessly.
Like I said, I didn't particularly care for the book. It was that satirical style where there is no character development or emotional pull. Vanity Fair is like that, the book I mean. The author keeps interjecting wisecracks and his prose is dripping with sarcasm. There characters are two dimensional and there's no description of inner life. Watching Cousin Bette convinced me that I don't need to finish Vanity Fair.