Emma (2009 BBC Version)
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Beautiful, clever, and rich Emma Woodhouse is convinced she is good at matchmaking after her older sister and her governess both marry suitable husbands. No matter that as Mr Knightley drily observes, in reality, she had nothing to do with these relationships. Yet Emma, certain of her talents, plays a dangerous game as she persuades her new friend, the young, pretty and socially inferior Harriet to reject an advantageous marriage proposal to a local farmer in favour of dashing Mr Elton. So begins a story which challenges Emma's naivety, her social preconceptions and her relationship with Knightley. Fresh and funny, this perceptive adaptation, featuring a stellar cast, brings Jane Austen's comic masterpiece to life.]]>
The dramas that ensue revolve around Emma's attempts to pair lovers, with varied degrees of success. Episode One establishes Emma's curious desire to marry everyone off except herself. John Knightley (Johnny Lee Miller), Emma's childhood friend, is constantly by her side, coaching, supporting, and chiding her as she matures into an intelligent, regal young lady. Miller's ability to portray Knightley as the respectable, patient man he is throughout the series also lends this Emma incredible strength. In Episode Two, after Emma's beloved governess, Anne Taylor (Jodhi May), moves out to marry, Emma bonds with new girlfriend Harriet Smith (Louise Dylan), and from here we begin to see some of Emma's plans backfiring. Part of this series' genius is in how it manages, in keeping with Austen's book, to express deeper love developing between Emma and her true mate while Highbury's daily gossip continues. Though in Episodes Three and Four one weathers some minor emotional upheaval with aging parents, losses of wealth, and illnesses, this story is not tragic and most side plots point toward Emma's final love realization, which does not arrive until the last 20 minutes of the last episode. Settings and costumes enhance the story greatly, and views of the village farmers' market contrast with lavish balls and dinner parties hosted by the Woodhouse family and others to underscore Austen's original emphasis on capturing the preoccupations of upper-class British society in her day. Some scenes, as in Episode One when Knightley and Emma squabble for much too long over whom Harriet should marry, drag on, allowing one to marvel at how much free time these people had to worry about other business besides their own. Still, the romance in Emma is quite powerful and humor throughout makes this series ultimately enchanting. --Trinie Dalton
Emma's Mr Woodhouse: Interview with Michael Gambon
Top Customer Reviews
This is truly a stellar production in terms of casting, and production qualities. The title role of Emma is credibly portrayed by Romola Garai, who has also been in other notable productions such as I Capture the Castle,and Daniel Deronda. She is perfectly cast - luminously beautiful, snooty, a busybody matchmaker wannabe who feels self-justified in her quest to pair off couples regardless of their own wishes, and yet possessing of a warm and sunny disposition.Read more ›
After matchmaking her sister and her governess Miss Taylor (Jodhi May), Emma Woodhouse (Garai) fancies herself an expert on human nature, and on "nudging" couples into matrimony. The acerbic Mr. Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller) isn't impressed.
And after Miss Taylor becomes Mrs. Weston, Emma ends up becoming best buddies with Harriet, (Louise Dylan) a sweet (if not very bright) young woman who is the illegimate daughter of "somebody." Emma becomes determined to pair Harriet with someone deserving of her, and focuses her efforts on matching Harriet to the rather smarmy but charming Mr. Elton. When Emma's latest matchmaking attempt falls apart, she vows not to mess with people's lives again -- but she can't help but be interested by Harriet's potential suitors.
At around the same time, two people that Emma has heard of her entire life have arrived -- the charming Frank Churchill (Rupert Evans), and the reserved and "perfect" Miss Jane Fairfax (Laura Pyper). Emma begins a flirtatious friendship with Frank, but for some reason is unable to get close to Miss Fairfax -- and ends up alienating her further on a disastrous day out. And as she navigates the secrets and rumors of other people's romantic lives, she begins to realize who she has been in love with all along.Read more ›
Now the bad: Emma's modern mannerisms. Things like plopping down on sofas, and generally being a bit lacking in the grace department. If she thought so highly of herself, it seems to me she would have been a bit more self-aware.
Also, Mr. Woodhouse. He was just depressing. In the book he's portrayed as a lovable, slightly silly, worried old man, and I really thought Michael Gambon would do a really good job playing him, but I felt that his performance fell rather flat. I just felt uneasy and depressed watching him.
The last aspect I have an issue with is the script. It's a great script, but I would really like to have seen more of Jane Austen's witty dialogue in there. The script seems to rely a little too heavily on new ideas of humor, or to leave it out altogether. I just don't understand why more of Austen's subtle humor couldn't be included.
That said, overall I thought it was a really good adaptation, with a (mostly) spot-on cast, great acting, decent script, beautiful sets and costumes, and a lovely score. Oh, and I haven't mentioned the best part - people play the piano and sing, and it actually sounds like they're singing! There's no sudden prima-donna-on-a-sound-stage moment. That is a thing of beauty rarely experienced in most period movies. Five stars for that, minus one for slight character and script flaws.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing adaptation! Romola Garai is EXACTLY how I imagined Emma to be. Jonny Lee Miller makes a very charming Mr. Knightley though he does not appear as aged and mature as Mr. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by Jenny
Loved everything about this other than I think the lady who played Emma should've been more lady like.Published 10 hours ago by Tonya & Casey
binge watched the whole thing....loved johnny lee miller in the dramatic lead. I highly recommend this presentation of one of my favorite austin novels.Published 1 day ago by oretra
If you like PBS and Jane Erye, then you'll like this. Very well done and good romantic movie. I like it as well as the version done by Gweneth Paltrow.Published 1 day ago by MSBASLYN