discovering emma

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 |

Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, this Academy Award-winning adaptation from director Douglas McGrath takes a rich, funny look at the romantic meddling of Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow). Surrounded by suitors – including Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northram) and Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor) – Emma spends her time arranging friends’ romances, never noticing that her own true love is right beneath her nose.

I have to confess that I’ve never read Austen’s Emma. I’ve read all her other novels (multiple times) and enjoyed them immensely, but somehow I skipped that one and haven’t remedied the situation. I’d never seen the 1996 film adaptation either, so I decided to check out the movie (aka visual Cliffs Notes). Watched it with my mother (who doesn’t remember characters’ names) and my brother (who shook his head at a lot of the girlish banter). Though I enjoyed the film, I still do not feel a burning need to find and read the book it is based on.

Things I liked: The film’s scenery was seriously gorgeous. This includes both costuming and locations. Beautiful gardens and houses, and great Regency-era dresses(!). Ewan McGregor: he sings! Hot. And Mr. Knightley is such a great character – noble and wonderful and better than Emma deserves.

Things I didn’t like: Gwyneth Paltrow’s hair (well, most of the time – like when it was pulled so severely on the top of her head) and Jeremy Northram as Mr. Knightley. There was a lot of potential for an alluring leading man…and though Northram was adequate, I couldn’t help but like McGregor’s acting and looks more. Next time they remake it, I vote for more than one spiffy-looking dude. Grade: B.

I watched this film for the Everything Austen Challenge, which is hosted by Stephanie’s Written Word. Next on the list: Prada and Prejudice, by Mandy Hubbard. Look for a review next week (that is, if I survive the great cross-country migration).

8 comments:

amillionbrilliantshadows said...

I read the book and then watched the movie. I don't think you'll be missing much by skipping the book. I kinda wish I had. It took forever to read and was beyond annoying.

Kate said...

This is also one Austen book I have not read. But I did enjoy this movie.

Marie said...

Great to see you are still plugging along on the Challenge!

Jaime said...

My opinion on this film version of Emma- painful. They couldn't have picked a more awful person to play Emma then Gwyneth Paltrow. However, there is a version with Kate Beckinsale that I prefer MUCH more. I love Emma. I named my daughter, Emma, from Jane Austen's character Emma Woodhouse. My Emma actually has a very similar personality. I say watch the version with Kate Beckinsale and you may feel a little differently or maybe not! LOL.

hmsgofita said...

Thanks for your review. This movie actually got me hooked on Jane Austen! So this one is definitely my favorite Emma and I really love Jeremy Northam and Gwyneth Paltrow in this and Miss Bates and of course Ewan McGregor!

teabird said...

I love Emma - she may my favourite Austen character: utterly misguided but so good at heart. She deserves her prize! And don't you love her father? Every time he says "gruel" I crack up.

Michelle Magill said...

Sorry you didn't like this one much. Don't give up on Emma though. It isn't a great adaptation of the book. I love both 1996 films but they are different. Perhaps you would like the Kate Beckingsale one. The book however is a different story. Emma is a bit more complicated than portrayed in the films and by design you will take longer to warm to her. Even Jane described Emma has someone you'll hate until she mends her ways.

Shannon said...

I really like this movie... it may even be one of my all-time faves. And I love Jeremy Northam in this. Well, I love Jeremy Northam, period! ;)

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