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129 of 135 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant in so many ways
Being a die-hard Austen fan, I couldn't resist watching this movie. Emma Woodhouse's story has always been my favorite of
Austen's efforts, and I am always glad to see her work brought to the screen. I was VERY pleased with this film.
Casting was well done. Northam provides a sturdy, but not overly-stern, Knightley, and Paltrow does an amazing job of convincing...
Published on September 29, 2001 by Amy R. Nix

versus
459 of 504 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more for Paltrow fans than for Austen devotees
Emma is a wealthy and bored young woman in Regency England. She lives the good life in her rural manse, where she lives with her hypochondriac father, and she has just successfully seen a match she's made lead to the altar. Flushed with success, she is determined to continue her role as Cupid, which leads to disaster and comedy at every turn.
Director McGrath...
Published on February 28, 2003 by audrey


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129 of 135 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant in so many ways, September 29, 2001
This review is from: Emma (DVD)
Being a die-hard Austen fan, I couldn't resist watching this movie. Emma Woodhouse's story has always been my favorite of
Austen's efforts, and I am always glad to see her work brought to the screen. I was VERY pleased with this film.
Casting was well done. Northam provides a sturdy, but not overly-stern, Knightley, and Paltrow does an amazing job of convincing us that she is, indeed, British in her portrayal of Emma. Her accent is nearly flawless, and I felt that she truly captured the personality of Austen's most spoiled heroine. The sets and lighting are bright, airy, and perfectly suited to the comedic approach taken by this particular director. The scenes are edited just brilliantly. Each scene flows seamlessly from one to another, and the pace of the plot runs along just perfectly. It moves fast enough to keep everyone interested and slowly enough to make sure that everyone has enough time to absorb what's going on.
The criticism I've heard most often is that the film really only touches on the Jane Fairfax/Frank Churchill subplot for the briefest of moments. I did not find that to be injurious to the film. It's plain, while watching this version, that the director wanted to keep the story light and funny. Adding Jane and Frank's saga would have done two things: First, it would have seriously darkened and dramatized the bouncy and bright atmosphere of the entire film. Second, it would have taken the spotlight off of Emma Woodhouse as the focus of the story. I felt that, given the abbreviated length of time that a movie has in which to communicate a story...the omission of Frank & Jane's affair was a wise choice.
The second criticism I've heard of the film is that it's just too clean and "pretty" to be accurately representative of Regency England. Again...this didn't bother me. The focus of this film is NOT to be true to history. It is not a Regency documentary. It is a fun and aesthetically pleasing depiction of Emma Woodhouse and her friends. It's romantic, funny, charming, and very very pretty to look at.
I loved it.
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459 of 504 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more for Paltrow fans than for Austen devotees, February 28, 2003
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This review is from: Emma (DVD)
Emma is a wealthy and bored young woman in Regency England. She lives the good life in her rural manse, where she lives with her hypochondriac father, and she has just successfully seen a match she's made lead to the altar. Flushed with success, she is determined to continue her role as Cupid, which leads to disaster and comedy at every turn.
Director McGrath proves to have a good eye for exterior shots and comedic elements. The script is delightful, the cast superb, and Rachel Portman's score is faultless. The real problem with this adaptation is dear Gwyneth. Paltrow is absolutely lovely and charming as the heroine here, but she is not Emma as written by Jane Austen, and the discrepancy changes the story entirely. To see this character played to perfection, you must see her played by Kate Beckinsale. Before you click the "No" button, hear me out: watch both films' version of the pivotal scene of the picnic on Boxer Hill, where Emma insults poor chatty Miss Bates. Austen's Emma is intelligent but thoughtless, generous but as yet unkind, in the way that young people can sometimes be. The essential drama of Austen's story lies in Emma's realization that she has been mistaken about oh! so many things, in her growth as she internalizes that realization, and in her discovering love when she becomes worthy of it. By contrast, Gwyneth Paltrow is perfect from the first scene. She exudes sophistication; she cannot help it. You never feel that she does not know what's what and who's who, and therefore she cannot develop as Austen means her to. And that precludes her from playing Emma to perfection. That said, if you are a Paltrow fan, you will love her in this charming film. She is effervescent. If, however, you are an Austen purist, then you MUST see the Beckinsale version instead.
Regardless of your opinion of the film, you WILL be disappointed in this DVD. Apparently Miramax's Harvey Weinstein has heard of neither bells nor whistles. Special features listed are: a theatrical trailer, subtitles in English and chapter selection. And that accurately sums it up. There's really no excuse for such a trifling package.
Now I've had my say and you, dear reader, may click away.
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51 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Oh wouldn't it be charming?", January 17, 2003
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This review is from: Emma (DVD)
"Emma" was made during a spate of Jane Austen films and miniseries awhile back, and thankfully (except for the fiasco called "Mansfield Park") all of them have been fantastic. Gwyneth Paltrow provides some droll comic relief as the title heroine of the movie "Emma," proving that yes, she CAN act quite well.
Emma Woodhouse (Paltrow) is on a matchmaking rush after she successfully pairs her former governess to a rich widower. Convinced that she can make a good match for anybody, she sets out to pair her penniless, sweet-natured pal Harriet Smith (Toni Collette) with someone more elevated than a prosperous young farmer, such as the eager young minister, Mr. Elton (Alan Cumming). Problem is, Mr. Elton turns out to be in love with Emma, not Harriet.
More romantic complications ensue when a charming bad boy, Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor in a bad wig) comes to the area and seems to be interested in Emma -- until Emma decides to pair him with Harriet. Emma's good-natured meddling continues unchecked, until it threatens her own happiness and her unspoken love.
"Emma" is probably the frothiest of Austen's novels; there aren't any big scandals or anything like that. Embarrassment is the big opponent in here, but Douglas McGrath has a good sense of how to use the droll humor to best advantage. This is definitely a comedy, except for one or two moments near the end; even there, it's amusing when Emma wails "I love John! I hate John!". The only source of humor that falls flat is Mrs. Elton, who is too overdone in her vulgarity and stupidity. Bit of a cheap laugh there.
Gwyneth Paltrow seems very in-her-element as Emma, managing to be cute and fumbling without ever making Emma seem precious or stupid. Ewan McGregor may hide whenever he sees his performance, but he's pretty good as Frank (and fans of his should definitely see him sing a duet with Paltrow -- he has a wonderful voice). Toni Collette is sweet as Emma's rather naive younger friend, Denys Hawthorne endearing as Emma's hypochondriac dad (he's kind of weird, but likeably so), Alan Cumming annoying as the juvenile Mr. Elton, and Greta Scacchi does a great turn as Emma's kindly mother-figure. And Jeremy Northam steals the show as Mr. Knightley, the barb-tongued aristocrat with a kindly heart and a genuine affection for Emma, even though her romantic prodding makes him nuts.
There are a few points in the movie where it does seem a little too light and frothy, but fortunately most of the time the direction stays in sync with the storyline. The lighting, the costumes, the music -- all of them are cute and lightweight. Kids can watch this as well as adults, since there are Disney cartoons that are more offensive than this. (But younger kids will be bored out of their skulls, probably)
"Emma" is a great film for anyone in search of a genuine comedy with lots of laughs and no stupid gags. Definitely something to watch, especially if you like hearing Ewan McGregor sing or Gwyneth Paltrow freaking out over a failed matchmaking.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious adaptation, July 20, 2000
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This review is from: Emma [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Ah, this is a fun movie!
A relatively faithful adaptation of the Jane Austen novel is a bigscreen treat (the recent "Mansfield Park" was a disaster). Even looking at the cover is nice.
An unusually good Gwyneth Paltrow plays the well-intentioned but inept Emma, a pretty, witty aristocrat who believes that "the most beautiful thing in the world is a match well made!" Having married off her ex-governess to a family friend, she decides to take a poor friend of hers under her wing and find Harriet Smith a husband, but royally botches it in the process. Amid the tangle of loves, infatuations, and deceptions, Emma discovers that her own true love has been standing off to the side...
Paltrow is genuinely enjoyable-she practically glows. Ewan McGregor is totally convincing as the two-faced charmer Frank Churchill (despite his own claims, he does a good job). The actors playing Mr. Knightly, Harriet Smith, and the usual smarmy pastor and his creep of a wife are jewels.
It doesn't have quite the emotional resonance of "Sense and Sensibility", the BBC "Mansfield Park," or "Pride and Prejudice," but "Emma" is something of a lightweight story--there isn't much in the way of scandals. It's a nice bit of G-rated fun and comedy, enjoyable but not too heavy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased with this adaptation, March 10, 2006
By 
This review is from: Emma (DVD)
I had only read "Emma" once several years ago so I don't remember all the details that one finds lacking in film adaptations. But I must say that I am very pleased with this adaptation of the book. I bought this movie on a whim last week---really knowing nothing about it. I really enjoyed the enitre movie from start to finish and have watched it several times since.

I think it is a "cute" story and Paltrow/Northam play a very likeable Emma/Knightley. Seeing this movie has motivated me to reread the book and although I'm not yet halfway through the book, I do find that quite a bit of the dialogue from the book is found in the movie and in general it follows the book pretty well.

This is an easy to watch, feel good, romantic movie. I liked all the characters, esp Sophie Thompson as Miss Bates. Certainly a great movie to watch on dreary days to lift your spirits. I would highly recommend this to any romantics at heart.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie!, November 24, 2006
This review is from: Emma (DVD)
Although a stylized version of the book, this is a thoroughly fun and enjoyable movie...if not just for the visual beauty of the scenes, costumes, etc, but for the wonderful performances by all actors. This is a true "feel good" movie that I watch often, especially when feeling down...it's for all those who are romantics at heart. I'll even admit the ending (near ending really) always makes me cry, sigh and wonder where all the "Mr. Knightlys" have gone. :)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matchmaker, Matchmaker..., January 6, 2003
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This review is from: Emma (DVD)
For some reason, film and Jane Austen are a winning combination. I can think of few classic authors who have been so well served by movie adaptations. This version of "Emma" is yet another success.
All of the necessary ingredients for a period film are here. Glorious houses, extravagant costumes and a dashing cast are all used to good effect. A special note is Ewan McGregor, demonstrating his singing chops long before "Moulin Rouge." He plays a fine rake. Gwyneth Paltrow does good service to Emma Woodhouse, balancing between silly snob and well-meaning, vulnerable girl. Jeremy Northam is a perfect Mr. Knightley and Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding, Sixth Sense) is excellent as Harriet.
The DVD is bare bones, but the presentation is nice enough. All in all, and excellent addition to a Jane Austen film library. Good fun.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infinitely Rewatchable, March 1, 2002
This review is from: Emma [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The first time I saw this movie was when it was released in theaters back in 1996. I thought it was quite enjoyable and my husband and a guy friend who saw it with us, enjoyed it as well. However, after watching it, I never really thought about it again.
About a year ago, however, I rented it and just fell in love with it. After re-renting it so many times, I finally went ahead and bought the DVD. Frankly, I don't quite understand how I missed how great this movie was the first time. I suspect it might have been Austen overload, as 1995-96 was right around the time that when Austenmania gripped Hollywood. Anyhow, I can't say enough about how much fun this movie is and how infinitely re-watchable it is. The acting by the entire cast, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Jeremy Northam, Toni Collette, to Sophie Thompson and Phylidda Law, is simply superb. Gwyneth is much better here than she was (IMO) in Shakespeare in Love. It's hard to take your eyes off her; her Emma just so funny -- supremely confident in always knowing what's right for everyone and, to her and no one else's amazement, invariably is always proved wrong. Jeremy Northam is also wonderful as Mr. Knightley. Austen's Knightley in the book is so gentlemanly and perfect that he can almost be a cipher. Northam however allows us to see into Mr. Knightley's psyche as he battles with Emma and her machinations, and his own exasperation, anger, jealousy and lust. His body language and eyes convey it all. Although Toni Collette is a bit of a miscast because she visually doesn't match Austen's Harriet, she redeems herself admirably by being so lovably dim that you can't help but wish her the happy ending she deserves. And Sophie Thompson is just perfect: funny and heartbreaking.
Although I agree with other reviewers that this version of Emma is not perfect (it loses some of Austen's sense of irony, just drops the ball on the Frank and Jane subplot, and never really let's you get too mad at Emma, who frankly deserves it), I think it makes up for it with the sheer joy, beauty, humor and romance of it all. To put it another way: As an adaptation, I'd rank it as 3-1/2 stars; as a movie, I give 5 stars plus! It's just wonderful moviemaking.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful movie, February 9, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Emma [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I am 16 years old and a great fan of Jane Austen's works, Emma being my favorite of her novels. This movie was an extremely beautiful production, with an attractive cast and beautiful setting. Praise must especially go to Jeremy Northam and Sophie Thompson for their portrayals of Mr Knightly and Miss Bates.
Gwyneth Paltrow, in the title role, has the beauty of Emma, and played her rather well, but I felt that she could have done more with the role.
My biggest complaint about this movie is how much detail they leave out. Many of the best, and most subtle, scenes of the book were left out, making it inferior to the BBC version. I also found the comedy to be contrived and out of place, quite unnecessary.
Still, this movie is one of my favourites, light hearted and beautiful. Far superior to the mess named Clueless, and quite worth spending the time to watch it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeter and more romantic than the novel, February 9, 2007
This review is from: Emma (DVD)
Almost universally, I find novels to be far superior to their movie version, and I think most avid readers would be inclined to agree. However, in this case, without having seen the film first, I never would have considered reading this book because I often steer away from classics, finding them difficult to understand and hard to follow.

I was quite enamoured with this highly romantic film Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam that I felt inspired to seek out the book. Of course, my analytical mind couldn't help comparing and contrasting the book with the film. There are so many different characters, many of whom had very minor roles, or were spoken of but never appeared in any actual scene. Having seen the film first, it was far easier to "know" who everyone was, and how they related to each other. The book had many more scenes that filled in delightful details and had deeper character development, which drew me into the story more intensely than before. There were aspects of the film that seemed more romantic (the interactions between Emma and Mr Knightly, for example), and I preferred the way the film ended as compared to the book. But in both versions, Mr. Knightly was extremely swoon-worthy!!! Jeremy Northam was outstanding in this role!

I feel very inspired to read the book in print, now that I am sure to understand and appreciate it to its fullest. And I have just ordered the DVD film version starring Kate Beckensale, which is reputed to be the most romantic of all!! I have officially been "turned-on" to Jane Austen, and plan to read her other books, comparing and contrasting them to their respective film versions as I have so enjoyed doing with Emma.
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Emma
Emma by Douglas Mcgrath
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