I don’t think I can give this one a fair review.
Let’s just get it out of the way. The plot of Clueless is Emma. They’re based on the same story. If you haven’t seen Clueless then … I’m horrified and you need to go rent it, watch it, whatever, right now. (Clueless is the better of the two. “And may I remind you, it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty?”) Emma is obsessed with matchmaking and her attempts to match up all her friends lead to disastrous results.
First of all, I’m deeply troubled by the fact that the movie poster seems to screw up both Toni Collette and Ewan McGregor’s names (seriously, do you proofread much, people?), but in the interest of transparency I feel that I should at least note that I abhor these sorts of movies.
One would think that I would be a huge fan of pretty English people in fancy dresses with romantic problems, but I’m certainly not. And while it may go against a lot of popular opinions, I am no fan of Jane Austen. I find her outstandingly boring and I’ve never been huge on “romance” anyways, so I find most Austen film adaptations like Pride and Prejudice and others to be little more than an irritation or a cure for insomnia. I can understand how others find them entertaining, but I do get tired of the constant waxing poetic about these adaptations of films by Austen and how adorably adorable and cute they are, primarily because it’s just variations on the same theme for me, personally.
Also, I find Gwyneth Paltrow insufferable. Nine times out of ten, I’d prefer chewing on broken glass to watching Paltrow smug her way through a movie. She always looks so distinctly pleased with herself. Whatever she’s doing in a movie is always with a thin undercoating of derision and disdain. Paltrow’s one of those people that I think very few folks fall in the middle with regards to their personality; I believe most people either really love Paltrow or really don’t care for her. I personally can’t stand to watch her act because it’s always apparent that it’s Gwyneth Paltrow playing someone else. The only exception I can readily offer up is her portrayal of Margot Tenenbaum, which I actually really like and will always give her a pass for it.
Not here, though. It’s so distinctly Paltrow – so smug, so upper crust, so self-absorbed. I get really tired of watching her because the moment you begin to buy her as a character, there is some smirk or eyebrow raise that reminds you you’re watching Gwyneth Paltrow.
A random aside: I always imagined her and Daniel Day-Lewis getting together and having lots of smug-faced babies together because they are pretty much the epitome of the Smug, Dedicated To Their Craft kind of actor. They both seem to be people who prattle on endlessly about the high art of acting and preach on to the little folks about what they believe to be true.
I was so disappointed when Paltrow married that dude from Coldplay, mainly because he seems somewhat boring and at least if she had run off and married Daniel Day-Lewis, that would have at least made me laugh. Daniel Day-Lewis has always struck me as the kind of guy that would quit acting to open his own haberdashery, proffering all sorts of statements about how creative and artistic and organic being a haberdasher was, only to promptly quit and go back to acting six months later.
But, alas, this did not happen.
This has nothing to do with Emma, but as you can see, this man loves hats.
Anyways, where was I?
Oh, yes. So, Paltrow kind of sets my teeth on edge throughout the whole movie.
And in come the supporting cast of characters, like Toni Collette and Alan Cumming and Ewan McGregor, all of who I find extremely worth my time, and they all fall flat. Boring and vapidly so. I mean, when I don’t want to leap through the screen and hug Alan Cumming, it’s not a good sign. I didn’t want to touch him at all; mainly I just wanted to fix his costume and that awful hair.
Watching Emma, I began to feel the reasons why I don’t like these Victorian period piece Austen/Bronte/whatever adaptations very much formulating in my brain amidst all the fluff I remember about crap like The Mighty Ducks and Return of the Living Dead. The main reason is that they’re all really the same thing in the end. It’s always a movie about a woman in an empire waist dress who is having hopeless love problems while gracious men in ridiculous collars parade around and everyone resolves their love problems by the end of the film through a remarkable set of coincidence. Everyone’s manners are impeccable and the dinner parties all look the same. They’re always set in these country houses with sprawling green lawns and it gets to the point where it all feels interchangeable in my head.
I’m sure many people could say the same about my fascination with horror movies, but these films always feel so dull and lifeless to me because no one seems to have any other aim in life than to get married and/or be in love. Not to sound heartless, but that is so yawn-inducing that I don’t know where to start. Being in love is a wonderful thing that everyone wants, but I often found Emma a drag not necessarily because that’s all that it’s about, but moreover this version of love and marriage I have seen on a screen many times before.
I can’t give it a bad review because technically and everything, it’s pretty good. It’s just my own personal tastes hold me back, in a sense, and prevent me from really enjoying it. It feels so empty to me. Pretty, but empty.
Plus, Paltrow. I expect her to steal Daniel Day-Lewis’ business plan for that haberdashery any day now, folks.