Emma Blu-ray Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 7.5
Video 5.0
Audio 7.0
Special Features   0.0
Total 6.5

Distributor: Icon
Running Time: 121 mins
Reviewer: Joshua Blackman

Classification: G

6.5


Emma (1996)

I confess that I seem to possess an inbuilt aversion to the costume dramas of manners typified by the Jane Austen big screen adaptations. And yet when I commit to them – Wharton’s The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence spring to mind, I find myself taken. Austen is more comedic and spirited than the more scathing Wharton, two characteristics which could equally be used to describe the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow-starring version of Emma.

The story is populated by characters who define themselves by their social circles and whose coded conversation is mostly gossip about who should marry whom. Directly doing her best to manipulate potential pairings is Emma Woodhouse (Paltrow). Just peppy enough to engage our sympathies, she blindly overestimates her own matchmaking abilities.

Doing all in her power to match the self-esteem challenged Harriet (Toni Collette) with Mr. Elton, she fails to notice his affections are instead directed toward her. Upon announcing his intentions, she blusterfully rejects him as if her involvment with any man were inconcievable. Other possible suitors come and go, including a young Ewan McGregor as Frank Churchill. His Fabio-esque blond locks and smooth charm does not go unoticed by the memebers of either sex. Present alongside Emma throughout her machinations is Mr. Knightley, played charismatically by Jeremy Northam. The affectionately antagonistic relationship between them manifests in a light comedic sparring which is one of this lush film's great pleasures.

Paltrow is excellent in the lead as the manipulative Emma, depicted with just enough heart to make her likable even if she is frequently blind to the impact her actions have on others (such as when she publicly insults the insufferable Miss Bates).

Less impressive than the film is this Blu-ray release which contains no special features and woeful visual quality. The picture appears to have undergone no restoration process, with film artefacts clearly visible. Such blemishes would have been unacceptable even if it were presented on DVD. Grainy and lacking clarity, it’s a shame that the warm and colourful visual palette is not given the treatment it deserves. The audio is fine, but unremarkable, and presented in a single DTS-HD 2.0 track.

The film was released the same year as a version made for British television starring Kate Beckinsale. Perfectly fine on its own merits, this version is more spritely and enjoyable. If only the transfer quality weren’t so mediocre.






 
 



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