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 of the time. On the surface Emma. would appear out of touch, but instead, this latest adaptation lends a fresh and inventive perspective to the story whilst maintaining a fondness to the original text that makes it a unique and accessible film.
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 and making use of the empathy that has been subtly earned throughout the film. Though very much still an adaptation of the story, 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 separates it from other films akin to the story. Led by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), the characters are all played with a lightness that helps whisk 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) as the reflection of Emma 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 a playfulness and vulnerability that – aside from an uncompromisingly enjoyable Bill Nighy – virtually steals every scene that he is in and is simply a joy to watch.
Autumn de Wilde helms this contemporized adaptation with poise and efficiency. The design is impeccable, with costumes and set design finite and crisp. The use of the camera is intelligent, with efficient movement and exquisite framing. Whilst the editing is polished, delivering fantastic comedic timing and intimate performance. All these elements show a contemporary flair, a confident new Director and create access for younger audiences not accustomed to Austin’s work.
Emma. is sharp and attentive to its audience, and utilizes the book to it’s farthest potential, ensuring that it is told with a contemporary lens for accessibility that creates boundless enjoyment from start to finish.
This blog post was written by Blake Gamble, an employee of Palace Cinemas and lover of all things film!