EMMA.– Releasing February 13
The final novel published by Jane Austen before her death, “Emma” tells the story of a handsome, clever and rich young woman in Highbury content to swan in lavish luxury, paying no mind to finding a husband in which to marry and further add to the legacy of her family – which is seen as an absolute necessity. This latest adaptation of Emma. lends a fresh and inventive perspective whilst maintaining a fondness to the original text.
Autumn de Wilde, in her directorial debut, offers a wholesome and light-hearted experience in this colourful adaptation that remains dignifiedly self-aware. The story effortlessly unfurls, engaging the audience with quirky, off-kilter characters who live out their unabashed and exuberant lifestyles with pettiness we can’t help but enjoy – before befalling characters with real consequence. Though very much still an adaptation, Wilde and screenwriter Elanor Catton lean on the original text at pivotal moments to showcase the robust humanity and strength that the story has, reminding us how Austin’s work is indeed timeless.
The cast performances in Emma. are one element that lifts it above other films akin. Led by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), the characters are played with a lightness that whisks the audience into the flurry of language and etiquette that often bogs down a period set film. Taylor-Joy breathes a headstrong heroine that, when provoked, allows her to reveal the cracks with a cathartic reverence. Johnny Flynn (The Beast) brings an earnest and sincere performance that helps ground the narrative when necessary and sells the not-so contemporary ideals of marriage through sheer charm. Attention must also be paid to Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country), who conveys playfulness and vulnerability that – aside from an enjoyable Bill Nighy – steals every scene.
Autumn de Wilde helms this contemporized adaptation with poise. The design is impeccable, the use of the camera is efficient and the editing is tight. All these cinematic tools show a contemporary flair, a confident new Director and create access for a younger audience not accustomed to Austin’s work.
Emma. is sharp and utilizes the book to it’s farthest potential that creates boundless enjoyment from start to finish.