Saturday, March 7, 2020

Emma: Movie Review

Stylish and funny.
Jane Austen herself has called Emma silly. It’s true, it is. It’s a lighthearted fare of Georgian aristocracy where the titular heroine concerns herself solely with matchmaking. It’s a comedy that touches on class differences, but it’s also an artistic escape into the 19th century English countryside. And this Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy.   2020

Directed by: Autumn de Wilde

Screenplay by: Eleanor Catton
Based on the novel by Jane Austen

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy

It would be unusual for a female comedy performance to survive the ten months to awards season and still be standing come the Oscars, but Taylor-Joy would be so deserving. There are two main highlights to this umpteenth adaptation of Jane Austen. The first is Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma. Her wide-eyed optimism mixed with her haughty disillusions of her matchmaking ability and her misguided and even devious attempts to control other people’s fates. There’s a devilish and yet sincere glimmer in her eye throughout all of her ploys. Her facial expressions are comedic gold. She’s delightful even when she’s being unlikable.

The second highlight is the scenery and gorgeous cinematography. First-time filmmaker Autumn de Wilde who has a background in photography and music videos has crafted every scene into something to be devoured. It is stylish and vivid; probably verging more on cartoonish than reality, but that’s exactly what a silly escape should be. de Wilde has hired Kelly Richardt’s oft-employed cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt who has shot many period pieces all with different looks and atmosphere. Emma is just luscious. Rolling hills with large country manors. It’s the Jane Austen from our dreams.

Emma’s chemistry with her various suitors, namely Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor) and Mr. Knightly (Johnny Flynn), isn’t the romantic feature that it could be, but that arguably works to the film’s advantage as this is Anya Taylor-Joy’s movie with Emma’s many comedic misadventures complete with flirting with an ulterior motive.

Emma is stylish and funny. It’s a faithful adaptation focusing on the Austen affectations we fondly remember – the setting and a heroine we can enjoy without wanting to emulate.