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  • Emma
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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2007
I've read the book twice and seen all the film/tv versions(and I include "Clueless" in that)that I know of. As a book I would say it is both superb and comparable(in quality) to "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and sensibility" so since books are usually better than their adaptations the film has a lot to live up to.

Well this is very well done. The film will stand or fall on the quality of its Emma and Gwyneth Paltrow does an excellent job. It's a difficult role as she has to be annoying, at times, while never actually making you lose all sympathy. There is a key scene, which I won't spoil by describing to you, where Mr Knightley has cause to chide Emma for her behaviour and this is done perfectly, as are all the crucial scenes. The supporting cast is excellent as you would expect, and while any film version will require some cutting and a little inventiveness with dialogue, I feel It has all been done as well as it could be.

I would say that the ITV Drama version starring Kate Beckinsale is good, and manages to squeeze in some extra scenes,so I can understand if people already familiar with that version prefer it(and maybe it's a little more patriotic to do so) but I must say that I can't fault this Emma.
It is one of those rare films that upon each watching has left me with an unexpectedly warm glow of pleasure inside.
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on 21 November 2005
The Paltrow version is really quite nice and enjoyable, but I can't help feeling that something is slightly amiss, a bit out of place. As if the actors - though very good ones at that - couldn't wholly identify with the characters they played. Sometimes they just seemed to be telling their lines without their hearts being in it. There is one exception and that is the excellent Jeremy Northam. Although his Mr Knigthley is certainly not as charismatic as that of Mark Strong in the other version of Emma, he was great.
Toni Colette, though a very good actress, was really miscast as Harriet Smith and not just physically. She is a modern actress and couldn't fit into this period drama. The same is true for Ewan McGregor: a great actor, but not one for period drama, or at least not for regency drama, I fear.
The film is not strictly faithful to the plot, which in itself wouldn't be a problem, but it weakens the performance even further altogether. Still, if you do not have too high expectations, you may enjoy this film without further ado.
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I'm not at all sure that I would have chosen Gwyneth Paltrow to play Emma but I thought she portrayed the character very well indeed. Inevitably films need to compress the action and leave out many of the scenes which are essential to a novel. This is where a TV series spread over several episodes can really score over a film adaptation. I thought that some of the Frank Churchill/Jane Fairfax story was sacrificed in order to fit everything into the time allowed and as a consequence many of the film audience might have drawn the same conclusions as Emma did about Frank Churchill.

I did think this was a good film overall though I did think that it showed Frank Churchill to be the cad he was which isn't necessarily obvious on first reading of the book as the hints are quite subtle. Jeremy Northam was excellent as Mr Knightley and Miss Bates was well done too. Overall this is an excellent film and I enjoyed watching it.
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on 15 April 2005
I haven't seen both versions of Emma so I can make no comparisons, however I love this version of the film.
I'm not a huge fan of Gwyneth Paltrow but I found her thoroughly likeable as Emma, for an American actress she made quite a convincing English Rose.
And I cannot possibly review this film without mentioning how incredibly gorgeous Jeremy Northam is as the dashing Mr Knightly, he is the perfect English Gentleman.
Emma is a wonderfully romantic and uplifting film and is one of the first that I reach for when I fancy a girly night in front of the TV accompanied by the biggest bar of chocolate I can find.
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Initially sceptical about Gwyneth Paltrow in the role of Emma, I realised she had totally won me over when I cried in sympathy at her stern but deserved chiding from Mr Knightly. This in my opinion is a far more spirited and convincing Emma than the Kate Beckinsale version. Everyone from Toni Collette as the eager to please Harriet, Alan Cumming as the simpering Reverend Elton, and Ewan McGregor as the dashing Frank Churchill, brought the characters from the book vividly to life. While pleasant enough the Kate B versions pales into a bland and lifeless comparison and she is far too near her Mr Knightly in age to have been "held in his arms at the age of three weeks". Sophie Thompson as Miss Bates, and Juliet Stevenson as Mrs Elton are also much funnier. Altogether an extremely enjoyable, lovingly made and very convincing interpretation of a Jane Austen classic.
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on 5 March 2016
I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give the plot away. I like period dramas, but the central theme of the film is "romance" which other people might enjoy more than me (which is one of the reasons I only gave it 3 stars). I did enjoy "Emma", although I thought it was a bit predictable (it reminded me, in some respects, of "The Importance of Being Earnest"). I thought that Gwyneth Paltrow played her part very well. On the whole, I found her English accent to be convincing. Sometimes though, her accent seemed "over the top", but it was actually a good match to the other actors. I thought, also, that Toni Collette played her part very well (her accent was very good), and I couldn't understand why many reviewers "slagged her off". Perhaps she doesn't represent the character in the book very well (I haven't read the book, nor seen any other film versions).
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on 26 November 2012
I loved this film I have watched it over and over again Gweneth Paltrow plays a rich daughter who likes to interfere in everyone else's love life but till she realises she is in love her self. Could it be to late or will she find love as she wishes for her dear friend.
I love the era it is set in and feel its such a lovely heart warming film to watch.
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on 6 March 2004
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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on 17 March 2011
I finally had time to watch this version. I loved it. I have seen both older and newer versions. I like this length better than the newer miniseries version and I felt the scripting and casting were better than the older one with Kate Beckinsale. I had trouble getting attached to the characters in that one. I must admit I love jsut about anything with Jeremy Northam, Sophie Thompson and Polly Walker. Their acting was splendid in this. The costumes and settings are of note in this as well. I will watch this again I'm sure. I loved it!
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on 12 December 2002
This is an enchanting version of Austens follows the spoken text of the book pretty well, and the rest of the script keeps well to the style of the book and times. The strength of this book for me is the completeness of the are drawn in right at the beginning by ther titles melting into the opening scene in a clever and pretty manner, and this attention to detail carries on throughout the film. It is light and funny, with the developement of the characters and their relationships being drawn skillfully. The music is integral to the story, and carries many of the scenes much as in the BBC production of Persuasion(Hinds and Root).
My only gripes were the casting of Frank Churchill, and one particular stare in the revelation scene at the end by Miss Paltrow, who ,despite a generally excellent performance, always seems to me to exhibit no believable depth of joy, and just seems too sickly sweet somehow at this point.
Apart from these two minor complaints this is a sumptuous production, with Jeremy Northam playing a particularly dashing Mr Knightly , and a strong cast of supporting actors.
To be honest, I didnt actually relise quite how good it was until I saw the 1996 Kate Beckinsale Emma, which has much less charm, diverts from written text and meaning much more, and I just could not find the lead actress the least bit appealing....the lightness with which Gwyneth carries off the performance seems to me to suit the character......Miss Beckinsale seems merely to have turned her into a snob....I cant really qualify the difference, but this version just has a much bigger good feeling factor. Buy it!
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