Friday, September 20, 2013

Emma (1996) Review

Well, I got to watch the 1996 version of Emma (also referred to as the Miramax or Gwyneth Paltrow version) awhile ago, so I'm writing a review of it.  Before we start, I just want to say that I much prefer the 2009 Emma in practically every way.  However, I will do my best to review this movie on its own merits.

Let's begin with Emma, all right?  Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma was good in some ways, but bad in others.  She was very dignified (usually) and you could tell she was proud.  Her acting was very good, especially during the Box Hill scene (which was the one scene I prefer over the 2009 version), and she portrayed book-Emma reasonably well.  However, I do have a slight complaint: she's very slender and willowy, so she makes everyone beside her look bigger and taller and stronger than they are.  That's all right if she's standing next to a man, but Harriet should not look like she can overpower Emma!

Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley was handsome enough, about the right age, witty, blunt, dry and...something was still lacking.  I'm not quite sure what, but he didn't seem to have enough spirit and he didn't pull off the being-in-love-with-Emma as well as Jonny Lee Miller.  (I said I wouldn't compare...sorry.)  Also.  They kissed- twice- lengthily- before they were married.  Of course, they have a very beautiful, romantic wedding at the end, but that only barely made up for it.  But JN was good enough.

Toni Collette as Harriet Smith was too over-the-top, in my opinion.  In the book, Harriet is supposed to be pretty but not all that smart.  She is not supposed to be so cartoonish.  Toni Collette was sort of a caricature of Harriet, but that's like being a caricature of a caricature!  She was just a bit too much.

So. Um.  Whenever this guy appeared on the screen, my family all started giggling WAY too hard.  Part of this may have been that we were up too late...but when an opportunity to use all the Star Wars quotes you have memorized comes up, who can resist?  So Obi-Wan got to appear in a period drama.  (I STILL say that Frank should have whipped out his lightsaber [because of course he has one] when the gypsies attacked...only the new Star Wars hadn't been made yet.)
That aside, Ewan McGregor did a great job with the part (sans the hair- compared to this, Aaronjolras looks like he has a crew cut), and I can't decide whether he's my favorite Frank or not.

Mrs. and Miss Bates were good.  The Box Hill scene was tear-jerking, and Miss Bates talked the way she was supposed to.  However, I thought she looked a little too young and pretty (actually Sophie Thompson was too young for the part- makeup can do wonders), and she didn't really get enough screen time to really develop her character.

Polly Walker as Jane Fairfax looked a little too exotic- I mean, she had been gone for awhile, and she's supposed to be pretty, but she's also supposed to be sweet and gentle.  This Jane seemed to be too striking to be sweet, and again, she didn't have enough time to really develop her character.

Sorry the picture is blurry- it was the best I could find.
This Mr. Woodhouse didn't make too much of an appearance- I mean, you could tell he was a hypochondriac, and he was pretty funny when he was on-screen, but other than that, I couldn't really get to know him.

Mr. and Mrs. Elton were funny.  They didn't match the image in my mind when I read the book, but they created a new one.  Mr. Elton seemed too...buffoon-ish, I guess, to play the suave Mr. Elton, but Mrs. Elton was perfection.  And Mr. Elton's way of saying, "I hope I'm not intruuuuuding," while pushing people aside was hilarious.

This was a good movie.  It was funny and provided plenty of opportunity for future jokes, and it used many of the quotes from the book.  While not perfect, the romance between Mr. Knightley and Emma was very sweet, and this is definitely the movie to watch if you want one that captures the spirit of the book well while not being however-long-the-perfect-2009-adaptation-of-Emma-is.  Great scenery, pretty costumes, and wonderful acting.  I do have a few nitpicks, but this was overall a funny, likeable film.


Kiri Liz said...

"Pork, Mother!" :D

Although the 2009 version is my favorite Emma, I do like this one, because it contains some of the greatest lines and because it was the first Emma I'd ever watched. Lovely review. Very muchly enjoyed it.

Kendra E. Ardnek said...

I watched four versions of Emma last month. This was my third and tied with number 2 for least favorite. Maybe because it was too short for me to get to know all of the characters, but Harriet is most of the reason. In all of the other three I watched, Harriet is blond, small, and delicate, and gave off an air of innocence, precisely how I had pictured her. This Harriet was tall, large (no offense to the actress intended), and a redhead. She came off as stupid, not innocent.

Also, Frank's hair ... He needed the haircut. Which they left out.

Anyways, I intend to do up a "Great Comparison Post" between the four I watched sometime later this month, but I'm not sure when.

Miss Jane Bennet said...

Kiri Liz,
HAHAHA I love that quote! You're right, it does have some very funny lines. :D
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

I agree with you about Harriet. She didn't seem like a young, inexperienced girl to me, either.
Heehee, I wish Frank had gotten a haircut too- too bad he didn't. That would have improved his appearance quite a bit.
I can't wait for your Great Comparison post- it sounds like a wonderful idea! :)

Thank you both for commenting! :)