Emma Movie Review: Jane Austen's Classic Comes To Life Again
Movie Reviews

Emma Movie Review: Jane Austen's Classic Comes To Life Again

Emma Movie Review: Time to revisit the classic in 2020

  • Movie Name Emma
  • Director Autumn de Wilde
  • Actor Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth
  • Rating
  • Rating 3.5/5 Stars

Rating; *** ½

For a comedy  of manners, Jane Austen’s classic novel  Emma is  propelled by an incredibly ill-mannered heroine. Jane Wodehouse is one of the most unpleasant protagonists from 19th  century  literature. Opinionated to the point of being a bully, Emma ploughs her way through the lives of her relatives, friends and  staff members  with the arrogance of  God’s messenger and the impunity  of  a  gender-aggressive feminist who thinks  it’s her birthright to play havoc with  others’  lives.

Only one  friend, George Knightley makes the effort to put Emma in her place. I am so glad to see Anne-Taylor Joy (who is, errr, a joy to behold) and  musician John Flynn play the two characters. Joy (who has done mostly horror) gets her first ever opportunity  in a big classic  picture. Under the watchful gaze  of  first-time  director Autumn de Wilde, Ms Joy blossoms  like  a wildflower in spring… Her performance compares most  favourably with Gwenyth Platrow in the 1996 bigscreen version  of  Emma.

Anne-Taylor plays  the scheming Emma with  a ripe fidelity. Her eyebrows knit together in a display of  evil design, her  lips  twist into a toxic smirk every time she is  up to no good which is  almost all across the  lengthy but luminous  novel-on-film.

Most see Emma as a character-study of shallowness and vanity. This film makes its heroine’s  superficiality a virtue  for posh living in an era when matchmaking was the  main entertainment for the  rich and  the bored. Emma’s economically challenged companion Harriet is played by  another  fine actress Mia Goth who is a portrait of timorous timidity,trailing in  Emma’s shadows in  silent silhouetted  submission.

Though negative , Emma is never vicious  or  mean. She  is just a privileged  spoilt bored socialite  of  a bygone era patronizing the  poor and  romancing the rich. The film captures  the  laconic air and the artificial  grace of the times with a relish that’s at once a homage  and  a critique  of  aristocratic  decadence.

Everyone is  so much in-character  that  I was swept  into Jane Austen’s  character-cluttered  beau monde. My only disappointment is Josh  O’Conner, a  favourite British actor who plays the  vicar  and Emma’s secret admirer(whom Emma thrusts on Harriet, sigh) like some kind of a glorified  buffoon.
Unbecoming, specially in a  film where everyone is  so  steeped in the  mood and ethos of Austen’s times,  it feels like we are transported  back to a place where the most important issue of the day is, which  gown to wear  for  the evening ball.And then…is that man on the  other side of the room looking at our heroine or her  chaperone?

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