Handsome, clever and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless “queen bee” without rivals in her sleepy little English town. Emma must navigate her way through the challenges of growing up, misguided matches and romantic missteps to realize the love that has been there all along.
When it comes to matters of the heart, one mustn’t trifle with love and emotions especially when they don’t belong to you. Emma. Based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name, minus the period, deals with that exact situation. It’s a film that is witty and honest. It’s not trying to fit a mold or be anything other than what it is. The first things that jump out at you are the vibrant and detailed costumes and set design. Along with the level of decorum that is present, you are immediately transported back to the 1800s. A time where your social standing is of the most importance, marriage at a young age is the norm, and if you’re wealthy then someone physically dresses you. I guess not much has changed. While this is not the first time this story has been seen on the silver screen, I believe it is the most book-accurate version.
Consequently, it is a film that is very niche and will mostly be enjoyed by Jane Austen fans. However, if you’re a fan of old British traditions, customs, and stories that are representative of that era, you may also enjoy this movie. It’s a story about finding love, friendship, and near misses. It shows the dangers of meddling in the love lives of others, even if you mean well. Also, the search for love isn’t always as difficult as you think. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure that it’s a movie that will be appreciated if chosen to see on a whim. It is rather slow at times and probably could’ve been shorter than its two-hour runtime, as it drags in the middle and gets a bit tedious and lackluster. I even heard some snoring during my screening.
The storyline, however, is a familiar one that many of us know. The 90s birthed Clueless, a modern adaptation of Emma that is now considered a classic. In 2020 we get to view Emma in its authentic form. Overall, I found the movie to be slightly above middle-of-the-road. While executed well, it’s not very memorable and nothing really stands out.
Plot & Pace
The pacing of the film is a bit sluggish in the middle as the film is dedicated to being as close to the book as possible. Where it could’ve cut corners, it didn’t. The story follows Emma, a teenage girl that comes from money who likes to play matchmaker with her acquaintances. As she attempts to find a proper suitor for her friend, things don’t go exactly as planned and she begins to feel as if she also wants love for herself. Making many mistakes along the way, Emma learns valuable lessons and discovers that the person she is now may not be the best version of herself.
Characters & Chemistry
Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma did a fantastic job. Her banter with Johnny Flynn who plays the snarky Mr. Knightley was some of the most enjoyable parts of the film. Taylor-Joy was witty, snobbish, and controlling but in an almost endearing way. Mia Goth as Harriet Smith also put on an enjoyable performance as Emma’s best friend who is trying to figure out how to navigate in Emma’s world as she is not from the same background. We also get a witty performance by Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse. With how the cinematography was done, the chemistry between the characters is definitely evident.
Emma. releases in select theaters on February 21st then will open in more theaters each week. Enjoy the movie.
Director: Autumn de Wilde
Writer: Eleanor Catton
Runtime: 2h 4m
Rating: 3.5 out of 5