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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The 2 star rating is for DVD quality, the movie itself is a 5 star and our favorite of all the Jane Austen movies. Read morePublished 3 days ago by austinmom2
Although I agree with the critics that the ITV version is better, I enjoyed Paltrow's changes of facial expressions as the romantic nature of Emma's feelings for Mr. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Alfred G. Cuzan
What can you say about a pairing of Jane Austen and Gwyneth Paltrow? It's classic, it's extremely funny, and incredibly sweet.
Rent it, you won't be sorry!
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