Emma’s, like, such a ripoff of CluelessPosted: 24 March 2008
I’m sure that’s what some people would have thought when they’ve finished watching this on A&E or the film version starring Gwyneth Paltrow that came out around the same time. Clearly, Clueless was still fresh in my mind when I settled in to watch Kate Beckinsale as Emma, the sixth of seven films in Masterpiece Theatre‘s Complete Jane Austen. My sister and I were figuring out which characters in Emma translated into Clueless. We observed that one of them that didn’t seem to cross over was Jane Fairfax (possibly because the secret engagement thing can’t work in a high-school context). We also mocked that secret engagement between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax (played by Olivia Williams, who eventually played Austen in Miss Austen Regrets), at least in terms of how the film gave subtle hints of that before it was finally revealed. Example: Emma and Frank were flirting and talking about Jane, who was seated across and away from them. There was one shot with Frank catching a glance at Jane; it’s framed in such a way that it’s just the two of them in shot, with Jane slightly out of focus.
I liked Kate Beckinsale’s portryal of Emma. She exhibits that emotional range that would be required for Austen heroines, from flirting with Frank to the abrupt surprise of Elton’s proposal, and then with Knightley’s dressing-down at Box Hill. I think she really was at her element in her scenes with Knightley. There is that almost-familiarity of being siblings-in-law, but I cringed a bit when he told her about holding her as a baby… before they kissed. Overall, this Emma‘s good; there’s a lot to recommend it, and a good choice for Jane Austen City Limits. 9/10