When the trailer for Autumn de Wilde’s Emma. released, I wasn’t sure why we needed another rendition of Emma, but I also didn’t care. The first trailer alone was enough to woo me into submission. Much like our recent remake of Little Women, Emma. skips along with it, arm in arm.
This movie is hilarious and extremely elegant at the same time. I really appreciate de Wilde’s choice of keeping Emma seemingly unbearable as she is in the book. There are some things not in the book added for laughs that are rather small, but serve the film greatly. The comedic timing is what I was most worried about, since the 1996 version was not funny in the slightest. It’s safe to say my entire theater had many cheers and outbursts of laughter. The strongest part of the direction, for me, would have to be the romance that inevitably unfolds. I don’t remember the last time a film made me feel the way the characters do on screen, notably the ball scene. The blocking, pacing, and timing of each beat is played out effortlessly.
The handsome Emma Woodhouse is crushed when her governess Miss Taylor gets married and moves out. Since Emma paired her with Mr. Weston, she decides to assume the duty of the town matchmaker, despite her father's distinct disapproval. Through this, Emma gets her and her friends into some interesting relationship situations while uncovering new discoveries about herself along the way. To me, it is a coming of age story, but not so much in the Stand by Me sort of way. It's about a girl who thinks she knows what's best for everyone else and wants to help, without realizing she's causing a mess. But this is what makes it funny and relatable, especially for people like Emma (and myself).
There are many things about the script that make this film so much better than the book. I won't go into detail, but if you're a beloved fan of the book, just know there are some fun tid bits added while staying true to the original story.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I really didn't know much about Anya Taylor-Joy besides Thoroughbreds, which I wasn't a fan of, but she blew me away. I don't think I could have come up with a better casting for such a peculiar character. Bill Nighy is an absolute delight and brings a brighter ora of innocence to the character of Mr. Woodhouse. Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley made me appreciate him so much more. He brought nuance and tenderness to the character we know to be quite uptight (at least to me!). Also shout out to Miranda Hart playing Miss Bates. I just wanted to give her a big ole hug.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is what really pulls the direction to that romantic feeling I was talking about earlier. We have a mix of score plus some great singing tracks mixed in to give that sense of being there with them either at the ball or at dinner. We get some excellent live numbers from the actors as well. It's all very lovely and really helps build the world.
The visual aspect of this film is my absolute favorite out of everything. Emma. feels like a fancy 19th century doll house brought to life, with Emma doll and friends included. Painted in pastel easter colors, the overall tone is innocent and uplifting. Even in the saddest scenes, you feel like it's going to be okay. There's a safe feeling in Highgard, something I didn't really feel while reading the book. It's surely its own character, but the film really makes that so.
"He Spent the Whole Day Going To London Just To Get His Haircut"
Genre: Drama. Comedy.
With all the retellings of this fantastic Jane Austen tale, it’s a relief they stuck to a book remake and not a Clueless one, although, I do love me some Clueless. However, Emma. (2020) is a fresh and fun comedy just in time for spring and I highly suggest finding a way to view it as soon as possible!