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).