By now, if you've seen one Jane Austen film you've seen them all,which is to say, a movie about some pompous English twit of a woman who falls in love, but just doesn't know it.
In this case, the oh-so upper-class Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow) has seen her governess, Miss Taylor (Greta Scacchi), married off and bides her time by playing matchmaker. Her big project is Harriet Smith (Toni Collette), whom Emma pushes into a series of disappointments, first with Mr. Elton (Alan Cumming), then with Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor) and finally with Emma's friend, Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam).
The freaky thing about "Emma" happens when Ewan McGregor (Renton from "Trainspotting") arrives on the scene and begins sticking needles in peoples' arms. Suddenly, he, Emma and the entire English aristocracy are strung out on heroin watching the clouds roll by as they mumble about how totally cool it would be to be poor.
Okay, okay, that didn't really happen, but it sure would have made this film move a little bit quicker. The truth is almost stranger: Renton shows up looking like the dwarf from "Willow," an effect exacerbated when he walks next to the towering Gwyneth. Add Mr. Elton, who looks a lot like Pee Wee Herman after a particularly bad coif, and you have just enough surrealism to make "Emma" a good candidate for USA Cable's "Up All Night."
As it's not exactly a state secret that Emma has a crush on Mr. Knightley, their impending encounter provides little suspense. What keeps us on the edge of our seats is the question of whether Emma will ever get kicked in the behind for her intolerably stuck-up, wealthier-than-thou attitude. Rather than suffer through the smug tale of requited love between upper-class snots, it would have been far more satisfying to watch them, one-by-one, engage in romantic encounters only to have their hearts ripped out and stomped to pulp.
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