Review: Emma (U)

Arnojya Shree reviews the latest Jane Austen adaptation.

Arnojya Shree
24th February 2020
For anyone who fancies literature and cinema, adaptations naturally become an engrossing piece of art. Emma, a Jane Austen classic is a beloved romantic comedy novel when it comes to its cinematic adaptations, and Autumn de Wilde certainly attempts her best to portray it as such in her latest feature directorial debut.

Set in a fabulously verdant English countryside, the film stars Anya Taylor-Joy (Split, The VVitch) in the role of Emma, who as the opening lines suggest is “handsome, clever and rich.” 

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as the titular Emma Woodhouse. Taylor-Joy will be back on the bigscreen soon in Marvel's The New Mutants. Image:Wikimedia Commons

Austen remains a literary genius due to the relatability of her narratives, no matter the decade and this new adaptation certainly proves it true. Emma, her naïve love cupid heroine is meddler with good intentions who has a fancy for setting people up and makes even the elders look up to her good manners and grace.

Away from the “vexing” of the world, social standing, matchmaking, female companionship and jealousy is the core of Emma’s world, where sincere feelings are realized after the ruckus has taken place. But our heroine is also quick to make amends and is eminently devoted to her ever so sensitive father, Mr. Woodhouse which is played by the very “chill” and fashionable Bill Nighy (Love Actually, About Time).

Mia Goth (Suspiria, High Life) brings out an innocent delight through Harriet Smith; the warm centre of Emma’s world who embodies a fan and friend in one. Johnny Flynn (Lovesick, Beast) validates the smouldering and dignified Austen hero, Mr. Knightley whereas Josh O’Connor (The Crown, Only You) brings out his comic side on-screen through his portrayal of the deluded Mr. Elton. 

The narrative much like Emma’s life is scattered all over the place, with fragmented sequences tied up rather uncomfortably on-screen. The cinematography of the film is exquisite and portrays England in its vibrant best with its art of symmetry stealing the spotlight. The wealthy affair of Emma’s world is particularly evident through the Regency Era ensemble, courtesy of Alexandra Byrne’s glamourous genius. The hypnotic music score by Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer attempts to fill in the emotional gap in the narrative of the film. It’s a sumptuous, perplexing and vibrant world “in this time of man’s great innocence.”

Rating: 3/5

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