Beautiful, wealthy and secure in her place in society, Emma Woodhouse rules her tiny part of England with a sunny disposition. Emma occupies herself with somewhat clumsy if well-meaning attempts at matchmaking, yet she completely misses seeing her own true love until it is almost too late. The latest adaptation of the beloved Jane Austen novel (first shown on PBS), this version of Emma succeeds in every way.

As you would expect from a BBC production, every detail is exquisite. Costumes, scenery, settings, props all help to bring this version of Emma beautifully to life. The film reflects the bright and sunny personality of the heroine with lush gardens, elegant homes, lively conversation and charming villages. Beautifully adapted and acted, you will not be disappointed.

There are many film versions of all of Austen’s books; one of the great advantages of the mini-series versus a feature film is that there is much more room for the story to grow and develop; side stories that add interest and atmosphere need not be cut and the main characters can shine as they should. All of this comes together here making it a pleasure to slip into the sharp and witty world of Austen.

moonligh in odessaOdessa is a study of contrasts – a beautiful city situated on the Black Sea whose residents are fiercely proud of its history and culture, it is also wracked by poverty, corruption and the lingering effects of Soviet rule. People are forced to “do what they have to do” to survive such as a doctor that works a second job as a taxi driver, a marine biologist who becomes a mobster, and multiple generations of families living together in tiny, rundown apartments.

Moonlight in Odessa is Daria’s story. Trained as a mechanical engineer, she must take a job as a secretary to keep herself and her Boba (grandmother) alive. Fearing the sexual advances of her employer, she introduces him to her friend Olga who then turns on Daria in a jealous rage. Thinking she’ll soon be out of a job, she agrees to work for a matchmaking service, where lonely American men can meet Odessan women, most of whom are desperate to find a way out of poverty.

Daria is desperate too and, despite her better instincts, gets pulled into a match with an American. What she finds in America – and in herself, her friends and her family – changes her forever and sets her life on a course she could not have imagined.

This is a fascinating look not only at another country and it’s traditions and manners, but at how other countries see America. Daria is smart, witty and gutsy and following the twists and turns of her life choices makes this a real page turner and a wonderful story of a strong woman finding her way.