Like American geopolitical power and sitcoms set in New York City, the Jane Austen adaptation peaked in the 1990s, when one dizzy two-year period gave us the iconic Colin Firth mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice, the near-perfect Ang Lee adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, Amy Heckerling’s brilliant Beverly Hills reimagining of Emma Woodhouse in Clueless, a lovely Gwyneth Paltrow turn as the original Miss Woodhouse in a handsome Emma, and a raw and effective Persuasion with a young Ciaran Hinds.
Every Austen adaptation since has been overshadowed by that remarkable run, with filmmakers mostly opting to work with minor novels …
This article appears as “Emma with an Edge” in the April 20, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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