Let’s just say that I love this movie. Even though I’ve watched it only once, it’s on my top three Jane Austen films (the other two being S and S 1995 and P and P 2005). The things I like most about it are…Well, more about that later.
Miss Dashwood recently did an Emma 2009 review. She was so clever in the way she summarized the plot that I decided to *borrow* it for my own review. Apart from that all the rest of my review is all mine.
Character A is happy, wealthy, beautiful, and an incurable matchmaker. She takes Character B under her wing and tries to make a fine lady out of her, but in the process foolishly advises Character B to turn down an offer of marriage from Character C, who isn’t rich enough to suit Character A. Character D, an old friend of Character A’s family, frequently has to reprove Character A for her thoughtlessness. (I’m tired of typing the word Character and so will abbreviate it to a plain C–so Character A will become C-A.) C-A tries to make friends with C-E, the niece of the talkative C-F, but C-E is standoffish and shy.
C-G, a church rector, comes calling on C-A and C-A immediately sets him up with C-B. C-B falls in love with C-G, but all is apparently lost when C-G declares his feelings for C-A, not C-B. Poor C-B. Anyway, the dashing young C-H comes to town and quickly captures the attentions of C-A, despite C-D’s warnings that C-H is far too full of himself. C-A fancies herself in love with C-H, but soon drops the idea when she is led to believe that C-B is in love with him–though, in fact, C-B actually has a bit of a crush on C-D. Meanwhile, C-G forgets C-A and marries C-I, a snobby young lady from London who is rude to everyone. At a picnic, C-A is thoughtless and rude to C-F (C-E’s aunt) and is severely scolded by C-D, who says that her meddlesome ways will catch up with her one day.
C-A, though not realizing it, is slowly falling in love with C-D. She is still not sure, however, about C-H, and is most surprised when she learns that C-H and C-E were engaged all this time and didn’t tell anyone–a shock indeed, since C-H was always rather rude to C-E in public. Then C-A finds out that C-B wasn’t interested in C-H at all, but rather C-D, and she realizes that she herself is in love with C-D. C-D, who had gone to visit his brother in hopes of forgetting C-A (he knew all along that he was in love with her) returns and proposes to C-A (best. scene. ever.). She joyfully accepts, and C-B ends up marrying C-C, who she shouldn’t have turned down in the first place. And everyone lives happily ever after, including C-A’s father, C-J, who likes to sit by the fire wrapped in scarves and eat gruel.
Ok, back to my own thoughts.
Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller were both really, really good as Emma and Mr. Knightley (although I will always be partial to Gwenyth Paltrow’s and Jeremy Northam’s acting). R.G. has captured Emma’s slightly annoying personality with her charm and wit and J.L.M. is the *almost* perfect Mr. Knightley. Even my brothers (who profess to hate Jane Austen films) said he was the best one. They should know because they’ve watched the 1996 and 1997 versions also.
[A little bit of Emma/Knightley dialog. I'm not sure if I'm doing it exactly as it is.]
Emma: “He [Frank Churchill] has gone to London. On an important errand.”
Mr. Knightley continues writing.
Emma: “To get his hair cut.”
Knightley: (now I’m sounding like Mrs. Elton! ) ”Of course. Imperative business indeed.
[End of quote]
Mr. Woodhouse was perfectly played by Michael Gambon. You got a sense of his anxiousness about Emma or Isabella, or in fact anyone. My mom and I both really liked him. He was a good father for Emma.
Mrs. Weston was, I believe, to young to be Emma’s governess. But I still liked her a lot in her role. And I like how they gradually make her become bigger and bigger throughout the movie until finally…Surprise! she has a baby.
Some other characters – Miss Bates, Jane Fairfax, Frank Churchill.
Miss Bates might have been a little too young for her role but I think she played it very well. Especially at Box Hill. You literally feel how bad she felt when Emma insulted her. Overall I found her to be a good Miss Bates.
Mom and I both agreed that Laura Pyper, who played Jane Fairfax would also make a good Jane Eyre. She is sweet and shy and pretty. I think that she plays Jane Fairfax’s role to perfection and as with Miss Bates, her best acting (IMHO) comes to play at Box Hill.
At the beginning of the film, Frank Churchill seems quite honest and gentlemanlike. But then as the story gets deeper we find out a different side to him. I think that he is the most believable (and likeable) Frank Churchill from any of the adaptions.
Mrs. Elton is the most annoying in this Emma then in any of the other Mrs. Eltons. Mr. Elton (played by Blake Ritson who was Edmund in Mansfield Park, 2007) was also very annoying but I think Mrs. Elton won out.
Harriet Smith is perfect in this adaption. Pretty but very, very silly ( “Ship-court!”). She very much looks up to Emma and follows her leading – very complacent. Although I prefer Samantha Morton’s portrayal, Louise Dylan runs her a close second.
I think I’ve covered all the major characters and so now for some random bits and pieces. If you haven’t watched the movie, you might not find this very interesting. If you have, just sit back and enjoy.
I absolutely love this dress of Emma’s. It seems to be royal blue silk with a ribbon sash. I think it’s really beautiful.
All of us were laughing at Emma’s fantasy of how Frank Churchill rescued Harriet ( “It’s alright now – You’ll be alright”) It was just so ridiculous but she was so serious.
I really enjoyed the music. It was so sweeping and cheerful.
The dance – the Mr. Knightley/ Emma dance. Oh my. They fall in love right then and there and they don’t even know it. So wonderful.
And finally the proposal. *sniff, sniff*
And the white cliffs of Dover…
All my photos came from here.