This delightfully fun and lighthearted comedy is based on the story that inspired the hit movie CLUELESS! Dazzling Gwyneth Paltrow (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS) shines as EMMA, a mischievous young beauty who ... more »sets up her single friends. Funny thing is ... she's not very good at it! So when Emma tries to find a man for Harriet (Toni Collette -- THE SIXTH SENSE, ABOUT A BOY), she makes a hilariously tangled mess of everyone's lives. You'll enjoy all the comic confusion ... until Emma herself falls in love, finally freeing everyone from her outrageously misguided attempts at matchmaking.« less
Amanda D. (sophiesperspective) Reviewed on 2/13/2013...
I almost missed seeing this (fairly) accurate movie for its silly tagline: "Cupid is armed and dangerous!" Having actually read the book I realized why they might say something like this, but I also recognized that it would be entirely missing the broader picture of the book if such was actually the emphasis in the movie. Thankfully, the tagline misrepresented the movie, IMO. To be a regular running length the movie was surprisingly accurate. Of course there are things I would change, but in all seriousness I was impressed. The movie is definitely worth seeing.
As an aside, has anyone else noticed/does it bother anyone else that on the cover of the movie "Emma" isn't holding the bow and arrow properly?
"Emma is a wealthy and bored young woman in Regency England. She lives the good life in her rural manse, where she lives with her hypochondriac father, and she has just successfully seen a match she's made lead to the altar. Flushed with success, she is determined to continue her role as Cupid, which leads to disaster and comedy at every turn.Director McGrath proves to have a good eye for exterior shots and comedic elements. The script is delightful, the cast superb, and Rachel Portman's score is faultless. The real problem with this adaptation is dear Gwyneth. Paltrow is absolutely lovely and charming as the heroine here, but she is not Emma as written by Jane Austen, and the discrepancy changes the story entirely. To see this character played to perfection, you must see her played by Kate Beckinsale. Before you click the "No" button, hear me out: watch both films' version of the pivotal scene of the picnic on Boxer Hill, where Emma insults poor chatty Miss Bates. Austen's Emma is intelligent but thoughtless, generous but as yet unkind, in the way that young people can sometimes be. The essential drama of Austen's story lies in Emma's realization that she has been mistaken about oh! so many things, in her growth as she internalizes that realization, and in her discovering love when she becomes worthy of it. By contrast, Gwyneth Paltrow is perfect from the first scene. She exudes sophistication; she cannot help it. You never feel that she does not know what's what and who's who, and therefore she cannot develop as Austen means her to. And that precludes her from playing Emma to perfection. That said, if you are a Paltrow fan, you will love her in this charming film. She is effervescent. If, however, you are an Austen purist, then you MUST see the Beckinsale version instead.Regardless of your opinion of the film, you WILL be disappointed in this DVD. Apparently Miramax's Harvey Weinstein has heard of neither bells nor whistles. Special features listed are: a theatrical trailer, subtitles in English and chapter selection. And that accurately sums it up. There's really no excuse for such a trifling package. Now I've had my say and you, dear reader, may click away."
Brilliant in so many ways
Amy R. Nix | California, USA | 09/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being a die-hard Austen fan, I couldn't resist watching this movie. Emma Woodhouse's story has always been my favorite of
Austen's efforts, and I am always glad to see her work brought to the screen. I was VERY pleased with this film.Casting was well done. Northam provides a sturdy, but not overly-stern, Knightley, and Paltrow does an amazing job of convincing us that she is, indeed, British in her portrayal of Emma. Her accent is nearly flawless, and I felt that she truly captured the personality of Austen's most spoiled heroine. The sets and lighting are bright, airy, and perfectly suited to the comedic approach taken by this particular director. The scenes are edited just brilliantly. Each scene flows seamlessly from one to another, and the pace of the plot runs along just perfectly. It moves fast enough to keep everyone interested and slowly enough to make sure that everyone has enough time to absorb what's going on.The criticism I've heard most often is that the film really only touches on the Jane Fairfax/Frank Churchill subplot for the briefest of moments. I did not find that to be injurious to the film. It's plain, while watching this version, that the director wanted to keep the story light and funny. Adding Jane and Frank's saga would have done two things: First, it would have seriously darkened and dramatized the bouncy and bright atmosphere of the entire film. Second, it would have taken the spotlight off of Emma Woodhouse as the focus of the story. I felt that, given the abbreviated length of time that a movie has in which to communicate a story...the omission of Frank & Jane's affair was a wise choice.The second criticism I've heard of the film is that it's just too clean and "pretty" to be accurately representative of Regency England. Again...this didn't bother me. The focus of this film is NOT to be true to history. It is not a Regency documentary. It is a fun and aesthetically pleasing depiction of Emma Woodhouse and her friends. It's romantic, funny, charming, and very very pretty to look at.I loved it."
"Oh wouldn't it be charming?"
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 01/18/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Emma" was made during a spate of Jane Austen films and miniseries awhile back, and thankfully (except for the fiasco called "Mansfield Park") all of them have been fantastic. Gwyneth Paltrow provides some droll comic relief as the title heroine of the movie "Emma," proving that yes, she CAN act quite well.Emma Woodhouse (Paltrow) is on a matchmaking rush after she successfully pairs her former governess to a rich widower. Convinced that she can make a good match for anybody, she sets out to pair her penniless, sweet-natured pal Harriet Smith (Toni Collette) with someone more elevated than a prosperous young farmer, such as the eager young minister, Mr. Elton (Alan Cumming). Problem is, Mr. Elton turns out to be in love with Emma, not Harriet.More romantic complications ensue when a charming bad boy, Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor in a bad wig) comes to the area and seems to be interested in Emma -- until Emma decides to pair him with Harriet. Emma's good-natured meddling continues unchecked, until it threatens her own happiness and her unspoken love."Emma" is probably the frothiest of Austen's novels; there aren't any big scandals or anything like that. Embarrassment is the big opponent in here, but Douglas McGrath has a good sense of how to use the droll humor to best advantage. This is definitely a comedy, except for one or two moments near the end; even there, it's amusing when Emma wails "I love John! I hate John!". The only source of humor that falls flat is Mrs. Elton, who is too overdone in her vulgarity and stupidity. Bit of a cheap laugh there.Gwyneth Paltrow seems very in-her-element as Emma, managing to be cute and fumbling without ever making Emma seem precious or stupid. Ewan McGregor may hide whenever he sees his performance, but he's pretty good as Frank (and fans of his should definitely see him sing a duet with Paltrow -- he has a wonderful voice). Toni Collette is sweet as Emma's rather naive younger friend, Denys Hawthorne endearing as Emma's hypochondriac dad (he's kind of weird, but likeably so), Alan Cumming annoying as the juvenile Mr. Elton, and Greta Scacchi does a great turn as Emma's kindly mother-figure. And Jeremy Northam steals the show as Mr. Knightley, the barb-tongued aristocrat with a kindly heart and a genuine affection for Emma, even though her romantic prodding makes him nuts.There are a few points in the movie where it does seem a little too light and frothy, but fortunately most of the time the direction stays in sync with the storyline. The lighting, the costumes, the music -- all of them are cute and lightweight. Kids can watch this as well as adults, since there are Disney cartoons that are more offensive than this. (But younger kids will be bored out of their skulls, probably)"Emma" is a great film for anyone in search of a genuine comedy with lots of laughs and no stupid gags. Definitely something to watch, especially if you like hearing Ewan McGregor sing or Gwyneth Paltrow freaking out over a failed matchmaking."
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 07/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, this is a fun movie!A relatively faithful adaptation of the Jane Austen novel is a bigscreen treat (the recent "Mansfield Park" was a disaster). Even looking at the cover is nice. An unusually good Gwyneth Paltrow plays the well-intentioned but inept Emma, a pretty, witty aristocrat who believes that "the most beautiful thing in the world is a match well made!" Having married off her ex-governess to a family friend, she decides to take a poor friend of hers under her wing and find Harriet Smith a husband, but royally botches it in the process. Amid the tangle of loves, infatuations, and deceptions, Emma discovers that her own true love has been standing off to the side...Paltrow is genuinely enjoyable-she practically glows. Ewan McGregor is totally convincing as the two-faced charmer Frank Churchill (despite his own claims, he does a good job). The actors playing Mr. Knightly, Harriet Smith, and the usual smarmy pastor and his creep of a wife are jewels.It doesn't have quite the emotional resonance of "Sense and Sensibility", the BBC "Mansfield Park," or "Pride and Prejudice," but "Emma" is something of a lightweight story--there isn't much in the way of scandals. It's a nice bit of G-rated fun and comedy, enjoyable but not too heavy."