Gwyneth Paltrow delivers a pitch perfect English accent as the rich young woman who tries to play matchmaker but is blind to her own heart's affections. A dashing Jeremy Northam is the all-wise hero Mr Knightley and there's solid support from Juliet Stevenson and Greta Scacchi. This is the first ever big screen adaptation of Jane Austen's classic.
Forget Shakespeare in Love, this is Gwyneth Paltrow's finest hour (complete with perfect period English accent), as Jane Austen's appealingly infuriating heroine Emma Woodhouse, the woman who interferes with the love life of everyone around her but doesn't understand her own heart.
We know, of course, that she's going to get together with the all-wise hero Mr Knightley in the last reel because he's played by the splendidly dashing Jeremy Northam.
With these two splendid performances, you wouldn't think there'd still be room for Greta Scacchi, Toni Collette, Phyllida Law and Juliet Stevenson to strut their Regency high-comedy stuff, but there is.
With all this going for it, it's almost a pleasure to report that Ewan McGregor makes a total ass of himself as Frank Churchill.
This lovely production, with a vibrant Rachel Portman score, is the first-ever film of the book, and it's hard to imagine it could have been done better.