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I was so impressed with Doug McGrath's film version of the Jane Austen
novel "Emma," and I loved the music score by Rachel Portman so much,
that when I went to the video store one day and discovered the two had
re-united for "Nicholas Nickleby" I immediately rented it without any
I have read the book, and for those overly-critical fans of this Jane Austen adaptation, I don't know what else McGrath could have done to more perfectly capture the spirit and major plot elements of Miss Austen's work, especially given the limitations of a two hour movie (which some have complained about being too long!). And as far as Gwen Paltrow's accent is concerned, I must confess I wasn't too familiar with her when I saw this at the theater initially, and I was absolutely convinced at the time that she was an English actress!
I am taken aback by those who criticized the film for its lush scenery. That is one of the things I enjoy and look forward to seeing in period pieces set in the English countryside. The film's beautiful backgrounds are a major contributor to its appeal and success. If your idea of escapist fare is something bleaker, then perhaps you should rent something like "Death Wish III!"
The English country settings are as attractive and charming as the cast, and combine with the story and soundtrack for entertainment that makes you not tire of repeat viewings. McGrath is a wonder at choreographing the interplay of subtle expressions that are so essential in conveying the complicated romantic intrigue that occurs in this story.
This refreshing movie could also be a clinic on how enjoyable a film can be minus sex, violence or even a villainous antagonist. The story is often amusing, endearing, and at times, quite touching.
I have seen many competent Jane Austen book adaptations but this is without question my favorite.
By no means my favourite Austen novel, and Paltrow is by no means my favourite actress, but I found the film almost totally delightful. Paltrow does a good job, and Cummings, Stevenson and the one who plays 'Miss Bates' are all absolutely terrific. The period detail is not alienating; the feel of the movie is just right, in fact. But the real 'find' is Jeremy Northam as Mr Knightley. There could not be more perfect casting, IMO. I hated Mr K in the novel, but found him wonderfully human and humane in the film. Northam's good looks and smiling eyes are no hindrance to enjoyment, either! Highly recommended. AnaR
What a delightful film...
Accompanied by Oscar-winning Composer RACHEL PORTMAN's lush, emotional and dreamy music, this film remains a pure delight worthy of viewing more than once a year.
Gwyneth Paltrow was perfect for the role of Emma. Toni Collette was great as Harriett Smith.
The character who stole the film was MISS BATES!!! She was mesmerizing to watch, one finds oneself on the edge of ones' seat just hanging on her every word and laughing hysterically WITH her. One of the most endearing characters I have come across in ages. From one of the opening scenes when she is thanking Mr. Woodhouse for sending "that lovely quarter-hind of pork... PORK, MOTHER!!!" she shouts into her daffy and clearly hearing impaired Mother, Mrs. Bates (played by Emma Thompson's mother, Phyllida Law) who looks forlorn and lost.
The comical ways that Emma would avoid the grating Miss Bates builds itself up for one truly gut-wrenching scene at the picnic when Emma insults Miss Bates who takes her cruel dig to her heart. We then see poor Miss Bates stammering and on the verge of tears and just so crushed one can not help but feel one's heart ripped out to her on her behalf. It is a classic scene, one to be rewound and played over & over...
The ending is right up there with "Sense & Sensibility" and provides one of life's greatest lessons about how one should marry one's best friend...
I hope that this film delights you all as much as it has myself.
I ADORED it!
This is one of the best films I have seen in years! I am not a Gwyneth
Paltrow fan, but she is excellent as Emma Woodhouse. Alan Cumming is
superb as Reverand Elton, and Emma Thompson's sister, Sophie, is
hysterical as Miss Bates. And check out the gorgeous Jeremy Northam as
Mr. Knightley; what a gentleman! Whoever said you need sex and violence
in a movie to make it good has never seen Emma. I think that is what
separates it from so many others--it's classy.
If you're looking for a film that you can watch with the whole family, or looking for a romance for yourself, look no further. Emma is that movie. With a beautiful setting, wonderful costumes, and an outstanding cast (have I mentioned the gorgeous Jeremy Northam?), Emma is a perfect ten!
Jane Austen would definitely approve of this one!
Gwyneth Paltrow does an awesome job capturing the attitude of Emma. She is funny without being excessively silly, yet elegant. She puts on a very convincing British accent (not being British myself, maybe I'm not the best judge, but she fooled me...she was also excellent in "Sliding Doors"...I sometimes forget she's American ~!).
Also brilliant are Jeremy Northam and Sophie Thompson and Phyllida Law (Emma Thompson's sister and mother) as the Bates women. They nearly steal the show...and Ms. Law doesn't even have any lines!
I have no idea how a Texan (the director, Douglas McGrath) and the American
actress Gwyneth Paltrow ever pulled this off but seeing this again will
remind you what all the fuss about Ms. Paltrow was in the first place! I
had long since gone off the woman and still feel she is rather dull in her
Oscar-winning "Shakespeare In Love" performance but she gets all the beats
right here--she is nigh on perfect as Emma Woodhouse. She may have won her
Oscar for Shakespeare but she should be remembered for
Of course, she's surrounded by a great supporting cast including Toni Collette, Greta Scacchi, Juliette Stevenson et al...Jeremy Northam is very appealing as the love interest, even if the script wallows a bit in his declaration of love to Paltrow (in the process, allowing all of the tension to drain out of their relationship); several years on, Ewan's hair is a little easier to take than it was in '96 and, personally, I find puckish Alan Cumming a grating presence in anything nowadays. But the standout is, without a doubt, Sophie Thompson (sister of Emma Thompson, daughter of Phyllida Law) as Miss Bates; what this version needs is a scene where Emma reconciles with Miss Bates, as she is the character to whose fate we are drawn. The film is worth watching (again even) for her performance alone.
All in all, this has aged wonderfully with charm to spare and more than enough subtlety to sort out the British class system. Well worth a rental (because its unlikely that Paltrow will ever be this good again--but we'll always have Emma).
Romance is in the air and love is in bloom in Victorian era England, in
this light-hearted story set against a society in a time in which manners
were still in vogue, the ladies were charming and elegant, and the gentlemen
dashing. `Emma,' based on the novel by Jane Austen and written for the
screen and directed by Douglas McGrath, stars the lovely Gwyneth Paltrow in
the title role. A self-appointed matchmaker, Emma takes great delight in
the romantic notion of playing Cupid and attempting to pair up those she
feels are suited to one another. Coming off a successful matching that
ended in marriage, she next sets her sights on finding a mate for her
friend, Harriet (Toni Collette), but the outcome of her initial attempt
proves to be less than satisfying. Meanwhile, her endeavors are tempered by
by the handsome Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam), whose insights into matters
of the heart often seem to be a bit more astute than Emma's, and lend some
needed balance to the proceedings. And Emma, so concerned with what is
right for others, neglects the heart that is actually the most important of
all: Her own. The world goes round and love abounds, but Emma is about to
miss the boat. Luckily for her, however, the is someone just right for her
waiting in the wings. Now, if she can but stop long enough to realize it.
But as everyone who has known true love knows, matters of the heart can go
right or wrong in an instant, depending upon the slightest thing; and while
romance is at hand for Emma, she must first recognize it, and seize the
McGrath has crafted and delivered a delightful, feel-good film that is like a breath of fresh air in our often turbulent world. There may be an air of frivolity about it, but in retrospect, this story deals with something that is perhaps the most important thing there is-- in all honesty-- to just about anyone: Love. And with McGrath's impeccable sense of pace and timing, it all plays out here in a way that is entirely entertaining and enjoyable. It's a pleasant, affecting film, with a wonderful cast, that successfully transports the viewer to another time and another place. It's light fare, but absorbing; and the picturesque settings and proceedings offer a sense of well-being and calm that allows you to immerse yourself in it and simply go with the flow.
The winsome Paltrow, who won the Oscar for best actress for `Shakespeare In Love' two years after making this one, seems comfortable and right at home in this genre. She personifies all things British, and does it with such naturalness and facility that it's the kind of performance that is easily taken for granted or overlooked altogether. She's simply so good at what she does and makes it look so easy. She has a charismatic screen presence and an endearing manner, very reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. Yet Paltrow is unique. As an actor, she has a wide range and style and has demonstrated-- with such films as `Hard Eight,' `Hush' and `A Perfect Murder'-- that she can play just about any part effectively, and with that personal touch that makes any role she plays her own. But it's with characters like Emma that she really shines. She is so expressive and open, and her personality is so engaging, that she is someone to whom it is easy to relate and just a joy to watch, regardless of the part she is playing. And for Emma, she is absolutely perfect.
Jeremy Northam also acquits himself extremely well in the role of Knightley, and like Paltrow, seems suited to the genre-- in the right role, that is; his performance in the more recent `The Golden Bowl,' in which he played an Italian Prince, was less than satisfying. Here, however, he is perfect; he is handsome, and carries himself in such a way that makes Knightley believable and very real. Like Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy in the miniseries `Pride and Prejudice,' Northam has created a memorable character with his own Mr. Knightley.
Also excellent in supporting roles and worthy of mention are Toni Collette, as Emma's friend Harriet Smith; and Alan Cumming, as the Reverend Elton. Respectively, Collette and Cumming create characters who are very real people, and as such become a vital asset to the overall success of this film. And it demonstrates just how invaluable the supporting players are in the world of the cinema, and to films of any genre.
The supporting cast includes Greta Scacchi (Mrs. Weston), Denys Hawthorne (Mr. Woodhouse), Sophie Thompson (Miss Bates), Kathleen Byron (Mrs. Goddard), Phyllida Law (Mrs. Bates), Polly Walker (Jane Fairfax) and Ewan McGregor (Frank Churchill). An uplifting, elegant film, `Emma' is a reminder of civilized behavior and the value of gentleness and grace in a world too often beset with unpleasantness. And even if it's only through the magic of the silver screen, it's nice to be able to escape to such a world as this, if only for a couple of hours, as it fulfills the need for that renewal of faith in the human spirit. And that's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 9/10.
For those JASNA devotees (Jane Austen Society of North America), this
adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma" will truly send them running for the
But if you're willing to view Emma with the belief that this movie is loosely based on the novel, and enjoy it on its own merits, you'll truly enjoy yourself.
Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the apple of her aged father's eye and spends her ample free time trying to play matchmaker. Having achieved some success by matching her own governess with the widowed Mr. Weston, Emma sets out to match easily persuaded, impoverished newcomer Harriet Smith (Toni Collete) with hilarious results.
Some have complained that the casting is "all wrong" but I don't agree. I think for the comedic spirit of the film, the actors were well chosen. Sophie Thompson nearly steals the show as the muddled but happy Miss Bates. Her silent mother, Mrs. Bates (played by Sophie Thompson's real-life mother Phyllida Law), also steals a few scenes. In my humble opinion, anybody who prefers Mark Strong (the A&E version) over Jeremy Northam in the role of Mr. Knightley has to be "addled in the attic" as it were. Not tall enough? I'm sorry but I wasn't watching how tall he was but that mesmerizing smile. I'm sure I wasn't the only one swooning in my seat.
This is no literary classic (the movie NOT the book!) so let's not make it something it isn't. What Emma truly IS..is an enjoyable romp with a healthy dollop of romance. Viewed in this light, you're in for a good time.
And yes, Ewan McGregor's wig IS hideous. My friends compared it to a dead cat but that would do the cat an injustice.
Emma is a true romance. If you love the soppy stuff, charged with wit and
folly, you will love this movie! Its true to the novel, which is very
important, with a few twists added for pleasure. Gwen is not one of my fave
actreesess but she does justice to a role that required everything that she
had to offer in spades. She shines in a role i think no other actress could
have done proper justice to.
Jeremy Northam, as the hero. how shocked are you? I never looked upon him as overtly handsome but heck! What the right role can do for you! He looks so good as the sensible, regal Mr. K, that i am literally looking at him in a new light. He makes and excellent romantic lead. The charm and character that he brings to his role is wonderful!
Ewan McGregor, Greta Sacchi brings in the rest. a good cast. A good movie. If you are a fan of Jane Austen, see this movie, along with Pride and Prejudice - AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, buy the books. It enhances the movie to heights that are extraordinary
This is a good adaptation of Austen's novel. Good, but not
The cinematography is inventive, crossing at times the border to gimmickry, but it certainly avoids the trap of making this look like a boring TV soap in costumes, given that the entire story is dialogue-driven.
The acting is competent. Ms Paltrow is aloof, as her character requires, but the required distance from the other characters is accompanied by a much less appropriate detachment from her own actions. In other words, she does not seem to care enough of the results of her match-making endeavours. Some of the supporting cast is guilty of over-acting - very much in the style that is appreciated on stage but out of place in motion pictures. Personally, I had problems accepting Alan Cumming as Mr Elton - to no fault of his own, except for having left such an impression as a gay trolley-dolly in "The High Life" that it is now difficult to accept him playing any serious part. Acting honours go to Toni Collette who manages to radiate warmth, and Jeremy Northam who pitches his character at just the right level.
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