Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Toni Colette, Jeremy Northam and Alan Cumming
I remember seeing this movie years ago when it first came out on DVD. I thought it was all right but not as good as I had hoped. I decided to rewatch it to see if my opinion had changed. Overall, I thought the movie was cute and the first half did a good job summarizing the novel but the last half left out too much.
The good points:
- Gwyneth Paltrow's accent sounds good most of the time but her real life accent has hints of British in it so it's hard to tell. I found her Emma is not quite as annoying as Emma in the book.
- Toni Colette is fabulous and funny as always.
- Emma's diary voice overs let the viewer know what she's thinking and feeling.
- It includes the strawberry picking party (but chopped all the important stuff to combine it with the picnic to Box Hill)
- It uses some of Jane Austen's words and it sounds period.
- There are some scenes which aren't in the book which fit in nicely.
- It's very pretty!
I had a lot of minor complaints and one really big one:
- The second half of the movie leaves out many important plot points that stem from Frank Churchill (an unrecognizable Ewan MacGregor) and Emma's flirtatious friendship. There just isn't enough teasing and flirting. First, Frank Churchill doesn't come and go on a whim - he leaves because his aunt is sick, therefore, Mr. Knightley's dislike of Frank is rather unjustified aside from jealously. Frank's blunder and the letters game on Box Hill were left out entirely.
- Mr. Woodhouse is too hale and hearty looking for a man who spends most of his time indoors.
- Emma's diary entries are also bad because they spell out too much of the story rather than letting it develop through the plot. This was probably done for time constraints but it does seem rather like dumbing down for modern audiences.
- Why does Emma look miserable when Mr. Knightley proposes? She just got done telling the audience how she loved him! There isn't much chemistry between the actors.
- Spoiler alert: Poor Harriet! They made her very unhappy by making her in love with Mr. Knightly at the time he proposes to Emma rather than allow her happiness with Robert Martin first!
The most faithful adaption is the version with Kate Beckinsale (1996) but this one is prettier and a bit livelier. Mr. Knightly is better looking but not as good looking as Johnny Lee Miller in the version that aired on BBC/PBS in 2009.