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Comparative Review: EMMA

Comparative Review: EMMA

A fun, comparative review of THREE adaptations of EMMA. (Based on the book by Jane Austen.)

    • 1996 Version starring Gwyneth Paltrow & Jeremy Northam (movie)
    • 2009 starring Romola Garai (mini series)
    • 2020 starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn (movie)

I'm going to break my review down into what I "liked" and "disliked" about each of these three variations. I'm not critic, and I'm pretty easily entertained, though, so take it for what it's worth and give these films a go on your own to form your own opinions. ^_^

1996 Version

A movie! So... what I loved about the beloved Gwenyth Paltrow version of EMMA. I REALLY enjoyed the playful and witty Emma in this version. She was clever, and smart, but a wee bit too clever for her own good, which really IS one of the main points of the show. Gwenyth is pretty and a decent actress, so I feel like she looked & played the part well. Also... Northam as Knightly was wonderful

That being said... I did NOT feel the "chemistry" between Gwenyth & Northam on any level. Bummer. Also... don't hate me, because I ADORE Ewan McGregor... but I can't UNSEE him as Frank Churchill & I wish I could.

*bleaches eyes*

Also... I did not care for this version of "Jane Fairfax" either. ADORE that actress as well... but not so much in this role. 

All in all, a few mis-cast roles and lack of chemistry/seriousness between leads makes this a decent adaptation, but not my favorite. 

2009 Version

The mini series! I enjoyed that this is a longer adaptation. Hello, character development, right? I also loved all the actors and actresses in this one. What a wonderful lineup! I also felt the tension and chemistry between the leads was definitely on point. All of that should have made this the MUCH better adaptation, right? It would have, except....

The bad. It felt heavier. Not as light hearted and not as witty or clever as it could have and should have. It felt bogged down by too many details and lost the quirky charm of the book and 1996 adaptation. 

In a perfect world, the 1996 version and this 2009 version would marry and have a baby, birthing the "perfect" mix of these two. I kind of felt that happen in the 2020 version! Hey. At least ONE good thing had to come out of 2020, right? 

2020 Version

First Impressions: Ummmm, WOW. The moon is bright and I did not expect that at all. hehehe. Though, after watching the whole movie, the entire "butt" scene early in the movie seemed really very out of place and randomly thrown in. I like a nice, firm buttocks shot as much as the next girl, but this one felt added just for random shock value. 

Okay, so I JUST finished this and I really quite liked it. I felt like what the other two versions of this movie were missing were not quite so apparent in this one. It had a nice mix of quirky storytelling, quirky characters, great acting, and chemistry between actors. 

This one MAY be a favorite for me because of the well done balance of storytelling. I'm probably in the minority with this opinion, but I'm okay with that. :)

What do YOU think? Have you READ Emma by Jane Austen? Watched ANY or ALL of the above adaptations? Want me to do any other comparative reviews? I have one on Jane Eyre coming soon.

Leave me a comment! -Peggy


  • Peggy Martinez
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