Perhaps the original rom-com, this fresh but faithful retelling of the classic Jane Austen novel will charm audiences.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story (though you probably are – it’s been adapted and re-fashioned many times already); “handsome, clever and rich” Emma Woodhouse fancies herself as the village matchmaker. She spends her days trading barbs with bachelor neighbour Mr Knightly, entertaining her cantankerous father and moulding her next protege, Harriett.
Though well-meaning, Emma is a shallow young lady and her actions and words cause some concern around the neighbourhood. Through the tangled relationships of the young people of the village, Emma must learn to mind her manners and the actions of a true friend. (See also: synopsis for Clueless)
The film’s look is storybook perfect, with amazing detail in the sets, costumes and even the meticulously landscaped gardens and fields the villagers of Highbury traverse throughout the year. Natural light is abundant, paired with vibrantly coloured coats and hats, and fresh linen frocks. A soundtrack of chamber music completes the quaint English village atmosphere, whisking audiences into the rolling countryside in a vintage coach.
The cast is a balance of bright young British actors and well-known UK faces – Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Callum Turner and Rupert Graves – who all bring to life the menagerie of characters with wit and heart. Taylor-Joy’s facial expressions speak volumes, and Bill Nighy’s trademark oddness is perfect for the patriarch of the story.
The film is the directorial debut for American Autumn de Wilde, while the screenplay is by Man Booker prize winning writer Eleanor Catton. Both have managed to translate somewhat old-fashioned notions of love and class into something relevant for a modern audience.
Emma is a delightful tale, that will appeal to a wide range of cinema goers. Perfect for date night or a weekend outing with your gal pals.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
Belinda Yench is a Brisbane-based writer and communications specialist. She contributes to The Blurb on theatre and film