Customer Review

22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light, flashy fun, 6 Mar 2004
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This review is from: Emma [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
This is a rapid and flashy version of Jane Austen’s last novel. If you want vast Regency houses in the kind of weather which always remembers the season – the kind of weather that only exists in fiction - and if you want to follow the lives and loves of beautiful, prosperous people who all live happily ever after then look no further.
I don’t mean any of this as a criticism but it is hard not to feel short changed. In 116 minutes almost every turn of the novel's plot is at least touched on but I couldn’t help wishing that a little more time had been allowed to provide some suspense. It seems like no time at all between Emma’s first disastrous foray into match-making and the happy ending. Jane Fairfax’s impending doom to live the life of a governess is briefly raised and then happily resolved. Poor old Frank Churchill (an under used Ewan MacGregor) diappears entirely once his engagement is announced. There is no point watching a love story (or a detective story for that matter) unless our anxieties are allowed to grow – will they won’t they? – and for that we need time.
Emma is a novel of locations but in this version there is little or no sense of place. A clever opening sequence explaining the different houses is wasted as it looks like all the scenes take place in or against the same book-lined, candle-lit, sandstone, neo-classical pile. This is a gorgeous production. Rather too gorgeous in fact. Ladies of the period did not let their skins develop the golden tans of Gwyneth Paltrow or Toni Collette for pale skin was a sign of high status. Although the houses are candlelit there is clearly no lack of central heating as Gwyneth and chums parade through a Christmas party in sleeveless dresses.
The cast make a good effort with the brief script. Emma’s character transformation is brought about so quickly that disbelief does not so much have to be suspended as hanged, drawn and quartered. I dock three stars for that. But I can forgive a film a lot if it looks good so I’ll give one back. The DVD has no extras at all, not even a spurious ‘Making of…’, no, not even a trailer but at the current price of 6.99 that doesn't matter.
On balance it's OK but I preferred Clueless and I never thought I'd say that.
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3.9 out of 5 stars (60 customer reviews)
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Thomas
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