While her work already dates back to the 18th Century, Jane Austen has been a huge inspiration for filmmakers throughout history. Movies like “Becoming Jane”, “Pride & Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility” are just a few films honouring Austen’s fabulous writing.
The American director Autumn de Wilde (“The Postman Dreams”, “Rilo Kiley: The Moneymaker”) shares that same love for the British literary icon as she now brings “Emma” to life in her latest work. The result? A film that’s as romantic, British, compelling and wonderful as the writer herself.
Meet Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), a young beautiful woman having the most luxurious life while wearing the most lavish clothes. Together with her father (Bill Nighy) and their very obedient servants, she lives in an exquisite country estate.
She has everything she could wish for… apart from a husband. Not because she can’t get anyone but just because she doesn’t want a man. She wants to be her boss. While she’s very reluctant towards her marriage, she loves helping other people finding the right partner.
Her matchmaking skills have already been proven extremely successful when she brings together her governess and village widower Mr. Weston who will be married soon after that.
Now she’s doing everything she can to match her sweet and innocent young friend Harriet Smith (Mia Goth) to the love of her life. At first, the funny and spontaneous priest Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor) seems to be the perfect lover but when his dark and rude side surfaces, it’s clear that this won’t be a match made in heaven. Emma’s latest matchmaking efforts aren’t clearly going as planned.
Even more so when she has to face more personal problems than ever before. She has to deal with her rival, the more accomplished Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson) and Jane’s curious and extremely talkative mother Miss Bates (Miranda Hart).
There’s also the matter of love when two men want her hand: The ever-exclusive and most wanted bachelor Frank Churchhill (Callum Turner) and Emma’s in-law and neighbour George Knightley (Johnny Flynn). How will this young girl, who’s so full of herself, cope with these recent and unexpected developments? Will she find the perfect lover for Harriet, will she put her pride aside to make amends with Fairfax and her family and most importantly, will she finally open her heart to a man?
After seeing many Jane Austin adaptations, you’re probably wondering why they needed to make another one. However, let us tell you: Emma is the rom-com you didn’t know you would want to see.
Whether it’s representing the more harsh, ‘bitchy’, cold and headstrong woman or the more loving, sweet and vulnerable Emma, Taylor-Joy embodies her character perfectly. During her scenes with Goth, she gives “Emma” that vibrant and appealing vibe it deserves.
This is certainly not only because of Taylor-Joy but also because of Goth (“A Cure For Wellness“, “High Life“) who shows us the emotional range she’s capable of reaching. From being happy and sweet to heartbroken and confused, Goth portrays it all beautifully.
Living with those two dazzling ladies is Nighy (“Pokemon Detective Pikachu“, “The Limehouse Golem“). He might not have many lines in this movie but that doesn’t mean he can’t impress us. On the contrary. Even with just facial expressions and entertaining moves, he brings so much humour and joy to this movie.
Knightley visits Emma’s house very frequently and so there are many scenes between Taylor-Joy and Flynn (“Beast“). Flynn’s fine performance might be a little bit on the stiff side (well, what do you expect with those tight clothes and high collars?) but it’s still a very enjoyable one to watch.
He already astonished us with bags of emotions in “God’s Own Country” and “Only You” but who knew that O’Connor could be this funny and dark. Watching his as Mr. Elton was just an amusing delight.
However, the most hilarious moments are provided by the fabulous Hart (“Miranda (TV)”, “Call The Midwife (TV)”). She will fill your heart with joy every time she passes by on-screen.
While the acting in “Emma” is very strong, it’s been overpowered (in an extremely good way) by the people behind the camera. There’s the wonderful cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt (“Mid90s”, “State Like Sleep”).
The many emotions in this movie are being heightened even more by his close-ups while the beauty of this film partly comes from his wonderfully and gorgeous looking wide shots.
The make-up, hair and costume departments also really deserve all the praise they can get. They transport us back to Austin’s time right from the very start with the gorgeous make-up and the vibrant looking clothes. “Emma” is accompanied by a very elegant, uplifting and joyful musical score that gives that dreamy feeling to the movie.
Ironically this film about “a woman who sees marriage as an institution” is being released on Valentine’s day. A bad PR decision? Not at all! “Emma” is the most charming, lighthearted and British rom-com you will see in a very long time.