Director: Autun de Wilde
Genre: Period, Drama, Comedy, Romance.
Main Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart.
Runtime: 125 mins
IMDb rating: 6.8/10.
My rating: 7/10.
Quick summary: Jane Austen‘s novel about a young woman who finds out that meddling in her friends and family’s love lives can have far reaching consequences is brought to decadent and colourful life in this adaptation.
Set in the 1800s in the wealthy English countryside, as so many novels from the Victorian era often were, Emma, our titular character, says farewell to her childhood best friend and minder to the horrible world of marriage and realises she is a great matchmaker. Emma’s father can’t bare to lose another daughter to marriage and she and her friend Mr. Knightley both seem opposed to any idea of matrimony. Emma instead turns her attentions to the love lives of her friends and relations. Meddling in people’s love lives can have devastating personal consequences as Emma finds out, and her selfish ways and fortuitous upbringing can make her a bit insufferable at times.
The arrival of a potential suitor in town turns Emma’s head and she soon finds out what being misled feels like. Will she continue to pine alone and meddle or will she open her eyes and see that her future is right in front of her?
The presence of colour in this movie was astounding. Pastel blues and pinks abounded. The green of the English countryside was a pleasant setting and the decadence of the interior sets drew the eye at every opportunity. The only problem with this, sitting in a run of the mill cinema in Ireland, is that it is hard to relate to posh, well-to-do English toffs from the 18th century. I enjoy reading this type of literature and some people will enjoy the comedic timing of this movie but it will be hard to reach out to a wider audience for this feature.
Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Emma is very impressive. She conveys love and jealousy in a single glance. As she helps her friends gain love and life we see a flicker of anger and despair in her eyes. She totally immerses herself in the character. The blond hair helped but I found her completely unrecognisable from her previous roles, such as Split.
Emma, at the end of the day, is very selfish. She uses her friends’ lives as entertainment. When she gravely offends Miss Bates (Miranda Hart), she doesn’t apologise straight away after the fact. She doesn’t even apologise to her properly when she brings food for her and Miss Fairfax. Even after Mr. Knightley accosts her she cries and feels sorry for herself. Of course, in the end, all works out for Emma and she is seen as the hero of the piece.
All in all, I did like this film. It will never appeal to a wide range of viewers but that doesn’t matter. If you enjoy this type of literature and these types of movies then this is for you. It is nice, warm, lovely and it all works out for the main characters. Hurrah!
*Photos courtesy of IMDb and Focus features