Emma (1996) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –

While composing her original novel, Jane Austen sought out to create a heroine that no one but her would like. The final result of this attempt is a delightfully romantic comedy entitled Emma, a novel about a young woman who meddles in the lives of the people around her. Because of its timeless themes of love and marriage, many critics and audiences actually adore this novel (and some would argue that it’s Austen’s best). The novel also inspired Harvey Weinstein from Miramax to produce one of the best romantic comedies released in 1996.

A Toast

This film features beautiful Oscar-nominated costumes and a luscious Oscar-winning score. A fun fact about the costumes was that Ruth Myers had only five weeks to create 150 costumes. The film’s composer, Rachel Portman, was the first woman to win an Oscar for her original score. Since this film is a period drama, it obviously features beautiful production design. The film overall does its best to figuratively transport audiences to Jane Austen’s time period.

Beer Two

Since this film is based on Jane Austen’s longest novel, it can be a bit difficult to understand. That is because a lot of what happens in both the novel and the film is very subjective. Do the characters really love each other after declaring their admiration for one another? How can Emma Woodhouse be so naïve even though she is very witty and bright? The film might be confusing at times, but that is because it does its best to capture the complexity and subtle nuances prevalent throughout the original source material.


Jane Austen redefined the heroine when she created Emma Woodhouse. Both the novel and the film also offer a new take on the typical love story because of its representation of complex relationships. William Shakespeare once wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream that, “the course of true love never did run smooth,” which perfectly describes this novel and its film adaptation. Congratulations to Gwyneth Paltrow for taking on the challenge to bring one of literature’s most famous (and possibly infamous) heroines to life on the silver screen!

Emma (1996) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: during every discussion of love and romance

Take a Drink: during every social gathering scene (such as parties and picnics)

Drink a Shot: whenever Emma is wearing a white dress (or any outfit that has the color white)

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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