An odd statement, because I didn't think it was possible for me to like it any more than I did the first time. (Also odd that I do not know what to say, because as you know I am rarely at a loss for words.) This movie is so good. It's rather a shame, because this review is going to be a little gushy, I'm afraid. When I really like something, I tend to rhapsodize quite a bit.
Ahem. Perhaps I should begin by summarizing the story. I don't want to spoil it for any of you who have not seen the movie or read the book, so I shall not use any names. "No, I am not teasing you. I am quite serious."
Character A is happy, wealthy, beautiful, and an incurable matchmaker. She takes Character B under her wing and tries to make a fine lady out of her, but in the process foolishly advises Character B to turn down an offer of marriage from Character C, who isn't rich enough to suit Character A. Character D, an old friend of Character A's family, frequently has to reprove Character A for her thoughtlessness. (I'm tired of typing the word Character and so will abbreviate it to a plain C--so Character A will become C-A.) C-A tries to make friends with C-E, the niece of the talkative C-F, but C-E is standoffish and shy.
"Luck had nothing do with this. Just talent. And intution."
C-G, a church rector, comes calling on C-A and C-A immediately sets him up with C-B. C-B falls in love with C-G, but all is apparently lost when C-G declares his feelings for C-A, not C-B. Poor C-B. Anyway, the dashing young C-H comes to town and quickly captures the attentions of C-A, despite C-D's warnings that C-H is far too full of himself. C-A fancies herself in love with C-H, but soon drops the idea when she is led to believe that C-B is in love with him--though, in fact, C-B actually has a bit of a crush on C-D. Meanwhile, C-G forgets C-A and marries C-I, a snobby young lady from London who is rude to everyone. At a picnic, C-A is thoughtless and rude to C-F (C-E's aunt) and is severely scolded by C-D, who says that her meddlesome ways will catch up with her one day.
C-A, though not realizing it, is slowly falling in love with C-D. She is still not sure, however, about C-H, and is most surprised when she learns that C-H and C-E were engaged all this time and didn't tell anyone--a shock indeed, since C-H was always rather rude to C-E in public. Then C-A finds out that C-B wasn't interested in C-H at all, but rather C-D, and she realizes that she herself is in love with C-D. C-D, who had gone to visit his brother in hopes of forgetting C-A (he knew all along that he was in love with her) returns and proposes to C-A (best. scene. ever.). She joyfully accepts, and C-B ends up marrying C-C, who she shouldn't have turned down in the first place. And everyone lives happily ever after, including C-A's father, C-J, who likes to sit by the fire wrapped in scarves and eat gruel.
Now, was all that clear? Good. Take out a clean sheet of paper and number it from one to ten down the left-hand side, because we are going to have a quiz now.
What I really, really loved about this movie was that it made me so happy. The visual brilliance, the lovely music, the enchanting characters, the funny dialogue, the hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings, the sweet ending--and did I mention the lovely costumes? those too--all came together to make a movie that left me with a ridiculously happy grin on my face when it was over.
So yet again, I guess I'll go through my favorite aspects point-by-point. You know better than to expect a dignified and stately stroll through the story. I just jump higgledy-piggledy from character to character and costume to costume, and I enjoy myself immensely.
|I'm going to ask Mr. Knightley to teach me Chinese!|
See what I mean about the facial expressions? I so enjoyed watching her quarrel with Mr. Knightley about Harriet and Robert Martin--the Knightley Fightley, as I like to call it.
|"I really think it is time for tea, and yet it has not arrived. Do you think I should call Father in?"|
|Miss Taylor's hat... sigh. I mean, Mrs. Weston's hat.|
I really liked Miss Taylor---er, Mrs. Weston. Sorry. She was so sweet and yet not above giving Mr. Elton the Gladys Gilford Glacial Glare when he refused to dance with Harriet. :) I think maybe some of Emma's penchant for matchmaking came from Miss Taylor's example... she was definitely scheming (albeit quietly) to get Emma and Frank together!
And her romance with Mr. Weston was such a sweet little subplot. I loved watching the two of them together.
Really, I loved how all the people interact with each other in this beautiful film. People are fascinating, IMHO, and there isn't a single boring character in Emma. Everyone is so complex and yet perfectly normal. Sort of.
Okay, so nobody's going to call Mr. Elton perfectly normal. Eeeeh, he was so much fun. I haven't seen Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram and don't really want to, so I didn't have any problem seeing him as Mr. Elton. He was hilarious: just the right mix of creepy, wacky and self-satisfied. How wonderful that he got saddled with a wife who was just like him, only worse.
|"Quite so. And in Bath we would certainly|
have announced dinner by now."
|Mr. Knightley and the napkin had me in stitches. :)|
Um. Anyway. Long sentence there.
|"Brother and sister? No, indeed!"|
I do want to see the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma, but I can't imagine Jeremy Northam holding a candle to Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal of Mr. Knightley. Where Mr. Elton is pompous, fully aware of his handsome-ness, overbearing and selfish, Mr. Knightley is... well, knightly. He epitomizes the perfect gentleman, and his rapport with Emma is beautiful to behold.
|"Oh! it's beautiful!"|
Speaking of which, the entire Crown Inn ball scene had me smiling and laughing and even getting a little misty-eyed the whole time. I felt the way Emma looked when she came in and saw how beautifully it was decorated. Mr. Knightley's gallantry in asking Harriet to dance... Mr. Elton's hilarious-yet-awful "I am an old married man" spiel... Frank Churchill's ridiculous bouncing about in "The Ship's Cook"... and Emma and Mr. Knightley's dance. The Last Dance.
Did I mention I loved this movie? I think I did.
So, moving on to some of the other characters. Frank Churchill, for instance. Now, I know I'm going to incite some righteous indignation in all of you, but, well, there are times when I can't help liking Frank. No, no, stop! I didn't mean it! Put down the tomatoes!
No, but seriously, didn't you feel just a little sorry for him when he was remembering his childhood? And won't you admit that he's at least a little bit charming? And, after all, he did use Jane very ill (wow, I sound like Mrs. Bennet) but he did love her. Of that I have no doubt. Remember the whole brouhaha at Donwell when Frank came late to the strawberry party and had the big fight with Jane? The whole reason behind the fight with Jane was that he didn't want her to go be a governess when he could easily provide for her! But... then, of course, Frank didn't have the chutzpah to just tell his aunt he was getting married. As Melody said to me last week, "Frank Churchill is just one big BUT STILL." I agree. :)
Emma's relationship with her father was also quite sweet. Mr. Woodhouse might be a fuddy-duddy hypochondriac, but he genuinely loves Emma and it shows. I love how this movie portrays the funny characters as humans, not just comic relief. (Except for Mr. E., the caro sposo, of course.)
Miss Bates, for example. I am anxious to see Sophie Thompson's funny portrayal of the character ("lovely, lovely lovely!") but I really liked how Tamsin Greig made me feel sorry for Miss Bates. Though perhaps that wasn't exactly the way Austen wrote the character, still I enjoyed seeing a more sympathetic portrayal of the talkative spinster.
Of course there are a whole slew of other characters (Jane Fairfax, John and Isabella Knightley, all the little Knightleys, Mrs. Bates, Mr. Weston, &. &c.) but I don't have time to talk about them all, much as I would wish to.
No, instead I have to speed my way onward to... the last episode. The wonderful, glorious, perfectly splenderiferous, rewind-it-three-times end.
Emma's shock upon realizing that she loves Mr. Knightley is beautifully sweet. The proposal (infamous Chapter 49!) is even better, and my happiness is capped by the fact that they left the "If I felt less I might be able to talk about it more" quote intact. Emma's consternation over having to leave her father is touching, and Mr. Knightley's sacrifice of his beloved home in order to make Mr. Woodhouse happy leaves me sniffling a little.
My reaction to Mr. Knightley's surprise at the very end was much like Isabella's upon receiving Mr. Knightley's letter: "Oh... oh... OH!" *half-hysterical laughing/crying*
The seaside. The end.
(All pictures except the first one are from this screencap page: http://rawr-caps.net/index.php?cat=71)