Parents' Guide to

Emma (2009)

By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Lively Austen adaptation is full of charm and humor.

TV Max Drama 2010
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There's no shortage of Jane Austen adaptations on-screen, but few really capture the essence to impress purists. This 2009 mini-series of the much-loved Emma makes a strong attempt, led by a vivid central performance from Garai as the cheerfully misguided matchmaker. Channeling some of the unpredictability and impulsiveness that Alicia Silverstone brought to the role in the 1995 teen adaptation, Clueless, alongside a more refrained and considered approach in keeping with the period, Garai quite rightfully steals the show and is captivating to watch throughout the four episodes. Only Tamsin Greig momentarily diverts attention from the Golden Globe nominee, her comedy chops honed to perfection as town bore Miss Bates.

The costume and set design are stunning, bringing the era to life in fantastic detail, from hushed parlors and elegant ballrooms to busy markets and acres of wide-open grounds. Period dramas can get a bad reputation as a bit of an endurance test, but these four episodes fly by, light and whimsical, and full of humor to boot. A strong adaptation to add to a prolific literary cannon.

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