Review by Lisa Payne
I wonder how many versions of Emma. there have been including the best, Clueless. I mean I love Pride & Prejudice adaptations. And I tend to like TV, rather than movie versions of Emma. because they are so much more expansive and allows Emma. to be clever. She seems, to be the most vacuous heroine of Jane Austen novels.
The film opens with these words on the screen. “Emma Woodhouse: handsome, clever and rich…had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her”. I thought here we go again.
Anya Taylor-Joy is this year’s model of Emma. She is supervising the picking of flowers. One flower is about to be picked and Emma is like not that one, the one next to it. I thought oh FFS, what does it matter? Then you see Emma bring the bouquet to her nanny/governess for her wedding. So it indeed does make a difference.
Emma. is very amiable and affectionate as long as she gets her way. Her young, poor and naive friend, Harriet Smith (Mia Goth) hangs on Emma’s every word. The way Emma plays with Harriet’s life makes Harriet seems more of a pet than a friend.
The only one who challenges Emma. is Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn). He treats her like a petulant child to be corrected whilst simultaneously being in love with her.
There are the usual cast of characters, Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor) is vile, Mrs. Elton (Tanya Reynolds fresh from her wonderful role in Sex Education), Miss. Bates (Miranda Hart) who has a heartbreaking scene, Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson), the deliciously fractious couple Isabella (Chloe Pirrie) and John, Mr Churchill (Callum Turner), Mr. Martin (Connor Swindells) and the irrepressible Bill Nighy (chewing scenery every single time hens on screen) playing Emma’s father.
The comedy of manners, class and bad decisions is in full force.
Emma. will definitely please those who love English period dramas. The cinematography is so incredibly gorgeous, shot mainly in pastel shades, with a touch of red for the girls’ school cloaks for no other reason than it looks beautiful. Autumn de Wilde’s background is photography, and each scene works equally well as a still photograph or painting.
Utilmarely, for me, Emma. is like a chocolate Easter egg, beautifully decorated on the outside and hollow on the inside.
Now playing in the UK and opens in the US on Friday, February 28th.
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