‘Emma‘ is a 2020 adaption of Jane Austen’s Regency Era novel of the same name. It is the directorial feature film debut for Autumn de Wilde, a critically-acclaimed photographer and music video director.
Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) lives alone with her widowed father Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy). She becomes friends with the shy Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), whom Emma becomes obsessed with finding a romantic partner. First, she tries to pair him with the young Vicar Elton (Josh O’Connor), but that ends poorly when he marries the arrogant Augusta (Tanya Reynolds). Emma is constantly warned not to be an interloper by her childhood friend George Knightley (Johnny Flynn), but she ignores his suggestions. One winter dance at neighbor Mr. Weston’s (Rupert Graves) house, Harriet makes the acquaintance of the charming Frank Churchill (Callum Turner). Is love in the air again?
I will admit, my sister is the Jane Austen aficionado in our family. She has read every novel in triplicate as well as accompanying commentary and fiction from other writers inspired by Austen. It is true that I have read Austen as well, including Emma, but more out of an appreciation of her as a classic novelist. As for this particular novel, the British author said of Emma, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”
The novel is a comedy of errors that emanate from the class, gender, station, and occupation of all of the characters. Autumn de Wilde does an excellent job of bringing that into the story. The combination of the drama and humor within the plot makes the film very delightful and enjoyable to watch. De Wilde’s work as a photographer was on full display as the scenery was spot on and very beautiful.
Like any film adaption of a novel, some of the book’s content must be left on the cutting room floor for length or to make it flow in a more cinematic way. It is to be expected. This is my one point of criticism. Because some of the events are summarized or are cut, there a few scenes that felt a bit forced or rushed. Once these scenes end, it goes back on to its steady pace.
As an adaptation, I found it connected well to the novel. They maintain its comedic aspects as well as its sharp-witted commentary on society in the Regency Era. I appreciated that it avoided trying to connect it to the modern-day and just focused on the story as it is. That was refreshing.
Of the performances, they were top-notch from everyone. Anya Taylor-Joy is excellent as Emma and really captured the essence of the character. I also enjoyed Bill Nighy. He was hilarious as Emma’s father and provided much of the film’s excellent one-liners. Of the male actors, he was probably my favorite. I also found Mia Goth is also delightful as her friend Harriet. I appreciate that they kept her shy and meek nature in this movie. One role I found overlooked in a lot of reviews was Miranda Hart as Miss Bates. She was perfect for the role and did a good job.
Bottom line, Emma is a clever dramedy and an excellent adaption of Jane Austen’s novel. There are plenty of hilarious moments and drama that make it enjoyable as a film.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Some violence, Minor foul language, Thematic elements
FAVORITE QUOTES: Our companions are excessively stupid.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of The Lost Husband and In Other Words. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.