TV miniseries review: Emma (2009), episode 5, directed by Jim O’Hanlon
The miniseries concluded in much the same way as it had been going on before, i.e. in a “blah” sort of way. Really. Somehow it’s just unconvincing, and I don’t just mean the “OMG it’s the hottest day ever, but we don’t seem too bothered by it more than that we keep on complaining about how hot it is”. It’s the general feel of it. All of a sudden, Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller) and Emma (Romola Garai) discover they’re actually in love. Just like that. I’m just not really convinced that they are!
I really wanted to love this adaptation, but it seems to have fallen short, somehow. The actors were great and so were the clothes and the houses but it just felt a bit, I dunno, fake? I haven’t read the book yet, like I’ve already said, and sure it has elements that I recognise from the Beckinsale and Palthrow versions, but I’m just not enamoured by the story. I should be. It’s Jane Austen and an age gap romance, so I should be swooning – and yet, I’m not.
Fair enough, Emma is not a particularly likeable character, but the story? Well, it just isn’t Pride & Prejudice. It’s good as a comparison and getting new versions of old stories is always fun, but this one was a bit of hit and miss.
Did they cut a scene between Emma and Knightley about to let Mr Woodhouse (Michael Gambon) know of their engagement and the scene when Emma runs up to Knightley saying they can’t possibly get married? That seemed really rather odd and confused me greatly. He reaches for her hand behind her back, cutesey-wutsey, and then WHAM! – she’s in different clothes, at his house, running and crying and cannot possibly get married because of her father. What the…?
The shaky camera didn’t do much to improve things either – I hated that in ITV’s Persuasion (2007), which also suffered from the whole unmarried people kissing passionately in public. It’s not on!!! Even though we wanted Darcy and Lizzie to snog each other senseless in ’95, their first and only kiss was at the very end, when they were newlyweds. Jane and Rochester did get up to stuff if we are to believe the ’06 version, but they did it at home, at good old and secluded Thornfield, not in the middle of the town square.
No, if I had to sum up Emma à la 2009 in one word, it would be “unconvincing”. Sad as it is.