Most people didn't mind Gwyneth Paltrow's English accent in this charming 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma
. There are also plenty of authentic and wonderful Brit thespians in this film by screenwriter-turned-director Douglas McGrath (co-author of Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway
), including Juliet Stevenson (Truly Madly Deeply
), Phyllida Law (Much Ado About Nothing
), Ewan McGregor and Sophie Thompson who offers an outstanding and finally heartbreaking turn as the chattering Miss Bates. Paltrow plays Austen's benign busybody, Emma Woodhouse--so busy trying to arrange the lives of others that she is sidestepping her own. McGrath brings a kind of pretty and light touch to the production; his best move the wise delegation of creative authority to the actors themselves.--Tom Keogh, Amazon.com
Emma Thompson scores a double bull's-eye with this marvellous adaptation of Jane Austen's novel. Not only does Thompson turn in a strong (and gently humorous) performance as Elinor Dashwood--the one with "sense"--she also wrote the witty screenplay. Austen's tale of 19th-century manners and morals provides a large cast with a feast of possibilities, notably Kate Winslet, in her pre-Titanic flowering, as Thompson's deeply romantic sister, Marianne (the one with "sensibility"). Winslet attracts the wooing of shy Alan Rickman (a nice change of pace from his bad-guy roles) and dashing Greg Wise, while Thompson must endure an incredibly roundabout courtship with Hugh Grant, here in fine and funny form. All of this is doled out with the usual eye-filling English countryside and handsome costumes, yet the film always seems to be about the careful interior lives of its characters. The director, an inspired choice, is Taiwan-born Ang Lee, who brings the same exquisite taste and discreet touch he displayed in his previous films. Thompson's script won an Oscar.--Robert Horton, Amazon.com
A Jane Austen double bill. In 'Sense and Sensibility', Elinor (Emma Thompson) is the eldest of sisters who are reduced in means when their father dies and his estate passes on to his son from his first marriage. They are soon accepted into their new society, each finding romance, but with some pain along the way. Whilst in 'Emma', the meddling Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow) is intent upon matchmaking between the local vicar, Mr Elton, and her young friend Harriet Smith. A cautionary note is, however, sounded by the admiring Mr Knightly, towards whom Emma begins to feel attracted herself.