Sue Parrill Film Analysis

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Sue Parrill writes about Toni Collette as Harriet Smith that she:

is very good at looking and acting stupid, but she is so very unprepossessing that it is difficult to imagine that Emma would be interested in her as a friend. The term “bovine” may even creep into viewer’s mind… The director also apparently instructed her to look as foolish as possible. As to emphasize her bad qualities, she is shown posing for a picture in classical draperies holding a lyre in one hand, with her other arm curving over her head. Her portrayal of Harriet reveals few gradations of development or nuances of feeling. She holds nothing back. (2002: 126)

Although Marc DiPaolo agrees with Parrill that Harriet “spends the early parts of the movie looking particularly
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Bates is even more pronounced in this version. In the scene at Hartfield… after Miss and Mrs. Bates arrive at the party and as Miss Bates thanks Emma for the pork loin, Miss Bates screeches “PORK” at her mother. Then, after telling Emma she looks like an angel, she screeches “ANGEL” at her mother. (Parrill 2002: 131)

Sue Parrill quotes words of the director of the film, Douglas McGrath, who has said Phyllida Law “will play Mrs. Bates like Jack Benny [American comedian],” with “weary resignation” (2002: 131). Parrill also comments on this that “it is evident from this remark… of the way so many of the minor characters are used in comic ways” (2002: 131).
DiPaolo believes that Miss Bates is the supporting character who is “most effectively portrayed;” however, she appears “a little younger than one might expect” (2007: 101). And Sue Parrill writes that “by far the most entertaining Miss Bates is that portrayed by Sophie Thompson in the Miramax film” who plays Miss Bates “as a woman in her thirties, her own age. She wears little round glasses, through which she peers at the world. She smiles constantly and chatters good naturedly all of the time she is on screen. In fact, one often hears her voice before seeing her” (2002: 130) (Fig.
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