Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review of Emma starring Romola Garai

This cinematic remake of Jane Austen’s Emma is delightful, from the music to the shadows.  It is less comic than the version starring Gwyneth Paltrow, focused instead on watching characters develop.  I think that Emma is the most realistic of Jane Austen’s novels, the most relevant to an average person’s life.  Other renditions of the potrait of humanity in Emma do not leave this out.  However, Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller delve deeper. 

Emma has never been challenged, never been exposed to new places or new ideas.  She honestly thinks she is always right.  And she wants to excel.  As the movie progresses, she discovers she is lonely.  Playing with one’s own creations ends up dissatisfying, however painful it is to relate to real, independent people.

Mr. Knightley has also been content with his life, set in a routine that keeps him happy enough.  Everything he’s known could change, though.  Disruption is not impossible.  And what if he is wasting his life?  On the other hand, should he want to change something, is it even possible?  He cannot control Emma, this he knows – Emma who is ever declaring that she shall never marry.  What will give Mr. Knightley the confidence – or desperation – to try to win the heroine’s heart?

Surrounding the main characters are all the other inhabitants of Highbury: Miss Bates, Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. and Mrs. Elton, Mr. and Mrs. Weston, Jane Fairfax, Harriet Smith, and Frank Churchill.  Each is shown with their own struggles with identity, love, and managing their friends.  Staying in Highbury or leaving it has shaped their lives.  They all fear change, while simultaneously fearing that change may never come again.  Can good friends help them endure whatever life sends their way? 

Watch as Emma goes from playing with dolls under the table, to arranging flowers, to arranging matches, back to arranging parties and managing a house – and her own heart.  See Mr. Knightley through the window, gradually approaching Emma’s loneliness.  Experience the light and seasons shift.  Feel the restrained emotion at the ball.  Dream of what might be.  And fall humbly into the beauty of what really is.  

To God be all glory.  


Lisa of Longbourn said...

I’ve experienced this movie four times now. Pay attention. Do the characters look back as they walk away? Do they watch their friends leaving?

I think my favorite part is how Mr. Knightley is shown to grow through the story. And my favorite scene is his dance with Emma at the ball. Although my good friend and I agree that one of the best scenes is with Mr. Knightley and Emma making up, while holding their niece.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Anonymous said...

Dear Lisa of Longbourn,

I loved it too! The music was wonderful! My daughter and I, being fans of all things Austen, were very happy with this adaptation. We loved the ball as well, and the seaside. I will watch it again just for pleasure and look to notice what you noticed.

Always great to share insights of Austen.

Kate of Cogges Hall