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Emma Woodhouse seems to be perfectly content, to have a loving father whom she cares for, friends and a home. But Emma has a terrible habit - matchmaking. She cannot resist finding suitors for her friends, most of all Harriet Smith. Emma is desperate for Harriet to find happiness, but every suitor she finds for her friend ends up attracted to Emma herself. But is Emma so focused on Harriet's happiness that she is not considering her own happiness in love?Written by
Mel from the Untied Kingdom
With the enduring interest in the novels of Jane Austen, an author eons ahead of her time as far as writing stories that dealt with women's view of the world, it is not unexpected that the film makers repeat versions of these rollicking tales. This may be the fourth or so version of EMMA and for this viewer it is the most successful. A large part of the success of this version of the novel is both the screenplay by Sandy Welch and the direction by Jim O'Hanlon who elect to open the graphic gates of Highbury with a sequence that shares with the audience the background of the diaspora of the children whose parents have died and whose lives will eventually come together as adults. It works very well in setting the scene and the mood of class distinction so prevalent in England of the period.
Emma is brought fully to life by Romola Garai and this role further establishes her as one of the more important character actresses on film. The remainder of the cast is perfectly balanced, with Michael Gambon as Emma's ever needy father, Jonny Lee Miller as the perfect Mr. Knightley, Lousie Dylan as the ditsy Harriet Smith, Tamsin Grieg as the hilariously boring and mouthy Miss Bates, the striking Blake Ritson as the vicar Mr. Elton, talented Laura Pyper as Jane Fairfax, and Jodhi May as the governess turned neighbor Anne Taylor. The ensemble casting is as fine as any of the Austen transitions to the visual and the cinematography and costumes are first class.
The words may not all belong to Jane Austen (Sandy Welch has introduced some very apropos new lines), but the feel of the novel would likely please the author as much as it pleases the audience. The 4 episode BBC production comes in two CDs and the quality of production is superb. In every way, this EMMA is a joy.
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