Pros: Anya Taylor-Joy’s perfect portrayal of Emma Woodhouse; wonderful acting ensemble; impressive work by costume designers and set designers; excellent selection of music; photographic nature of many scenes Cons: Some characters do not quite correspond to their literary images Emma. / “Emma”
Directed by Autumn de Wilde
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma Woodhouse), Johnny Flynn (George Knightley), Bill Nighy (Mr Woodhouse), Mia Goth (Harriet Smith), Miranda Hart (Miss Bates), Josh O’Connor (Mr Elton), Callum Turner (Frank Churchill), Rupert Graves (Mr. Weston), Gemma Whelan (Mrs. Weston), Amber Anderson (Jane Fairfax), Tanya Reynolds (Mrs. Elton), etc.
Студии Perfect World Pictures, Working Title Films, Focus Features
Year of release 2020
Emma Woodhouse is an elegant, rich, independent and not at all stupid girl of twenty-one years old. Living with an incredibly suspicious and “sick” father, after leaving the house of her governess and companion Miss Taylor, she is frankly bored and amused by arranging the marriages of the people around her. Emma declares that she will never marry in her life, but, nevertheless, believes that she is well versed in matters of the heart. Naturally, in both cases she is wrong. If Emma were published today, and not 205 years ago, it would probably be called a typical women’s novel. The past years have turned a rather simple sitcom into a funny historical and everyday novel, full of interesting details from the life of England during the Regency era.
The British know how to make historical costume films, especially those dedicated to the beginning of the 19th century. Well-preserved aristocratic mansions and entire streets with two-hundred-year-old buildings make it possible to film on location, with minimal use of visual effects. However, some scenes in Emma. they amaze with some kind of unreal, pastoral purity and slightly theatrical perfection; the hand, or rather, the gaze, of the director-photographer is clearly felt here. It seems that the film can be cut into separate frames and used as desktop wallpaper or… covers for albums of classical music of the romantic period. Bravo, Autumn de Wilde.
The work of the set and costume designers also deserves traditional praise. And if the outfits of Emma and her friends, constrained by a fairly simple fashion of classicism, are simply beautiful, then the men’s suits, flaunting the most incredible and crazy colors, are something.
As is always the case with film adaptations, the main question is to what extent the filmmakers will fit into the images already formed in the minds of readers, especially since the role of Emma was once played by such good actresses as Alicia Silverstone, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale. Well, we should give credit to the casting specialists – Anya Taylor-Joy simply fits the character perfectly; you couldn’t even dream of a better Emma Woodhouse. Facial expressions, gestures, head tilt, manner of speaking – it seems that Jane Austen’s character simply came to life. Anya Taylor-Joy is generally a great fellow; she plays some scenes of the film almost without words, with only facial expressions and barely noticeable movements of her eyes and chin. However, here it is worth giving credit to the director and the director of photography, who were able to show these nuances. Yes, the dance scene here is one of the most erotic scenes in the history of Jane Austen film adaptations.
As for the rest of the actors, although not all of them fit into the characters portrayed by Jane Austen, they are incredibly colorful and hilarious. Bill Nighy, for example, doesn’t look at all like the book’s Mr. Woodhouse, but every time he appears on camera brings a smile, and the actor’s characteristic manner of acting incredibly brings this character to life. Musician Johnny Flynn, leader of the folk rock band Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit, despite our misgivings, turned out to be very appropriate in the image of George Knightley. In his interpretation, George Knightley turned out to be closer to Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. By the way, attentive viewers will notice that many of the features that Leo Tolstoy endowed with the hero of “Anna Karenina” Konstantin Levin were borrowed from George Knightley.
Good at Emma. and supporting actors. Rupert Graves (Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock) has transformed into the slightly awkward Mr Weston; Gemma Whelan (Asha Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) as the sweet and sensible Mrs. Weston; Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education’s Lilly) as the vulgar Mrs. Elton; Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles in the third season of The Crown) – as the narcissistic Mr. Elton; Callum Turner (Anatol Kuragin in War & Peace) is quite good as the dandy Frank Churchill. Great ensemble cast.
Emma. very similar to her main character. She is beautiful, funny, a little naive, sometimes eccentric and a little narcissistic. And incredibly sweet. Yes, I am aware that not everyone loves film adaptations of classic British novels, but… give Emma and Jane Austen a chance.
One can argue for a long time which of the Jane Austen adaptations deserves the title of best. Well, my personal favorite, Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice with the magnificent Keira Knightley in the title role, remains on the top step of the pedestal (I watched this film three times, including in the original language, which I highly recommend to everyone). But the second place is now occupied by Emma., having displaced Sense and Sensibility by Ang Lee with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. I think I’ll watch this film a few more times, it should sound just great in English.
A funny and very beautiful film adaptation of the lightest of Jane Austen’s novels