UK, 19th century. Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a twenty-year-old girl who lives with her father, Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nye), in a very beautiful and richly furnished mansion, located in the village of Highbury, not far from London.
Emma is beautiful and smart, but, however, she greatly overestimates some of her abilities, which is not surprising, because more than a hundred years remained before the discovery of the Dunning-Kruger effect. One ability that Emma is quite sure of having is pandering. Emma herself is not going to get married, because she does not want to leave her father, but she loves to arrange family happiness for her companion governesses.
At the beginning of the film, we are shown how Emma’s governess and mentor Miss Taylor (Gemma Whelan) leaves the Woodhouse mansion: Emma has found her a fiancé, a wealthy widower, so that Miss Taylor’s happiness now seems cloudless.
Emma herself becomes bored to death after Miss Taylor’s departure. Just now life was in full swing, Emma was arranging a future for Miss Taylor, and now she has left and Emma does not really know what to do with herself. In addition, we note that in those days, women did not have many options for occupying themselves.
In order to somehow have some fun, Emma makes a new friend – Harriet Smith (Mia Goth): a girl – an illegitimate, a pupil of Mrs. Goddard’s boarding house. Robert Martin (Connor Swindells) is in love with Harriet, a man quite worthy, but he is a simple farmer, and Emma is sure that she will find a more interesting couple for Harriet, because, Emma is sure, she is practically a professional in this business.
As a couple for Harriet, Emma has chosen the local priest Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor), and with all her fervor begins to make efforts to connect these two hot hearts, despite the fact that Harriet’s heart breathes unevenly for Robert Martin, and her heart Mr. Elton is clearly breathing towards Emma herself.
Emma’s efforts are watched with obvious disapproval by Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn), a distant relative and friend of the Woodhouse family who lives nearby. Mr. Knightley clearly likes Emma, but as an older comrade – he is thirty-seven years old – Mr. Knightley allows himself to criticize Emma for her desire to invade other people’s lives, and they often have heated arguments. Nevertheless, Emma treats Mr. Knightley well and misses him when he does not come for a long time.
When I suggested to my wife to see this new film, she was somewhat surprised that I was going to watch it at all. It seems, my wife said, that this is absolutely not your style – a costume melodrama from the 19th century, and even based on the novel by Jane Austen, for which, at first glance, I had some pride and prejudice.
Meanwhile melodrama melodrama – strife. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a costume or something else. For example, The Potato Peel and Book Club is a good melodrama that I liked. “Here Comes the Guests” is an excellent costume comedy melodrama, staged, by the way, based on a novel written by a nine-year-old girl (and this is not a joke at all). So don’t scare me with a Jane Austen novel, you won’t scare me like that!
Well, besides, I was interested in the composition of the actors here. Emma was played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who really impressed me in the series “The Queen’s Move”. It also has a great actor, Oliver Chris, as well as Connor Swindells and Tanya Reynolds, who did a great job in Sex Education, plus Gemma Whelan from Game of Thrones, Beel Nye and Rupert Graves – in general, the cast was interesting.
I didn’t know anything about the director Autumn de Wilde, but this is not surprising, because this is her first feature film: before that, Autumn de Wilde shot video clips and films about the tour of famous musicians. Well, nothing, I thought, everyone starts somewhere, we’ll break through! (Especially since the rating of the picture was quite decent.)
But before we start talking about this film, let’s talk a little about the literary basis, i.e. Jane Austen’s novel of the same name. I will not keep you busy with this for a long time – in most other reviews of this film they talk more about the novel and the writer herself, so I will be very short.
This is the fourth and last novel by the writer, published during her lifetime. (Two more were published after her death.) Jane Austen herself did not have special hopes for this book, considering both the novel and its main character to be too lightweight, and the first edition, which was published in an insignificant circulation of two thousand copies, was never completely sold out. . True recognition for Jane Austen’s books came only after her death – alas, this happens often.
The novel “Emma” has been filmed several times. A 1948 film with Judy Campbell, a 1960 film with Diana Fairfax, a 1972 film with Doran Godwin, two Emmas at once in 1996 (a fruitful year for Emma) – Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale, a 2009 film with Romola Garai. Also on this list is a modern interpretation of the novel called Clueless – the picture was released in 1995, Emma (she was called differently in the film) was played by Alicia Silverstone, and the 2010 film Aisha with Sonam Kapoor, which was also filmed based on this novel, and the action was moved to India.
And here is the new Emma! Director Autumn de Wilde was asked in an interview (I read a couple of interviews with her and Anya Taylor-Joy) if she was afraid to take on a film adaptation of such a popular novel, which already has seven adaptations. And she replied that she had her own idea of how to shoot it all: on the one hand, the same time would be recreated there, that is, almost two hundred years ago, but, on the other hand, the picture should look quite modern.
Note that the picture is not called “Emma”, as many people think, but “Emma.”, that is, Emma with a dot. Autumn said that at first it was just conceived as a joke to be different from other productions, and then she realized that it made more sense than it was originally intended, because the production is still noticeably different.
Interestingly, she did a great job of doing it! Yes, the atmosphere of those times, the costumes of those times (we will talk about the setting and costumes separately, it deserves it), but at the same time, “Emma” does not look like a traditional costume melodrama at all, it is not like that at all!
The characters in the film, of course, do not use modern slang, but one gets the feeling that these are our contemporaries who were placed in a similar environment, and they do not look alien there at all. On the contrary, they all look quite natural in this! Also, the difference between this picture and traditional productions is that there are many funny moments that create a good mood. These moments are short, unexpected, but somehow very human. Like, for example, the scene when Emma, left alone in the room and standing with her back to the fireplace, suddenly lifts up her dress from behind to warm her “fifth point”, while maintaining a completely deadpan expression on her face.
Emma, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, is beautiful. With her character in the picture, accents are precisely placed. Emma is not a wealthy bug who is satiated with luxury, who manipulates people solely for her own pleasure, she is a sympathetic person and capable of compassion. And that she actively intervened in the lives of other people – well, this is really from the best of intentions! She sincerely believed that she knew better than anyone who would find happiness with whom. And she was able to admit that she was completely wrong in this, when she was convinced that all her conclusions were wrong. And there is still a subtle episode of how she offended her annoying, annoying prick Miss Bates and how she sincerely repented of it.
Emma’s character is complex and ambiguous. At times, Emma is arrogant, and at times she is very lonely. She believes that she is not looking for anyone’s love, because her vocation is to arrange the life of her companions and brighten up the existence of a lonely hypochondriac father. And she is wrong about that too.
Anya Taylor-Joy played Emma perfectly. It is incredibly natural and alive, with all its advantages and disadvantages. The depth of study and the ambiguity of the character of the role, on the one hand, is similar to her work in The Queen’s Move, but the character here, of course, is completely different. Great role, really enjoyed it.
The second most important and interesting character in the film is Mr. Knightley, a distant relative of Emma, who, in relation to the girl, plays the complex role of both an obvious admirer and a strict uncle who sees Emma’s shortcomings well from the outside and will not fail to point it out to her. Emma actively dislikes Mr. Knightley’s criticism, but Mr. Knightley certainly plays an important role in her life.
Mr. Knightley was played by an unknown actor, Johnny Flynn. He played with dignity, did not disappoint, but not to say that he was struck by something. In our opinion with Bublik, he was slightly lacking in causticity and cynicism – this way the character would have turned out to be more interesting. But, by the way, who are we to give advice to both Jane Austen and the director, especially since we haven’t even read the novel, losers.
By the way, Johnny Flynn is not only an actor, but also a fairly well-known musician: he is the frontman of Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit. In the series, he sings himself, and he plays the violin himself – Flynn has mastered this musical instrument since the age of six.
We also had the question of what the slightly visible scars on Mr. Knightley’s face mean in general: what did this honorable gentleman have to endure? The answer turned out to be simple: Johnny Flynn himself was seriously bitten by a Staffordshire terrier as a child, because of which he had scars on his face for life.
Emma’s friend Harriet Smith, whose happiness Emma is trying to arrange throughout the film, was played by Mia Goth. Interestingly, these two actresses are close friends in life: I don’t know if this fact influenced the fact that Mia was offered this role. Purely in terms of plot, Harriet is a modest and shy girl who knows her place well. Well played – accurate and accurate.
The excellent actor Oliver Chris here, unfortunately, had only a few short episodes according to the plot. And Bublik and I all thought: what if he was invited to the role of Mr. Knightley? After all, it could have been much more interesting! Yes, Oliver is a little old for the role of Mr. Knightley, but he is forty-two years old, not such a big difference.
Old Bill Nye did an excellent job of playing daddy, who is terribly afraid of drafts. The role is small, but colorful and cute. Bill Nye is the same everywhere, in all roles he makes characteristic movements with his hands and grunts instead of laughing, but he is exactly that cool and funny.
You can talk about the actors for a long time, there are still several notable and successful roles, but here it’s better to move on to another important component of this picture, namely clothes, interiors, scenery and landscapes. And it’s just some kind of continuous delight! From the very beginning of the viewing, you pay attention to how amazingly interesting and scrupulously everything is worked out – from clothes to interiors. And it’s really very, very beautiful, so I usually don’t pay too much attention to such things. But here, in general, almost every frame is a finished postcard, and wonderful!
After the first viewing, I later watched almost the entire film again – this time separately carefully examining the interiors and clothes of the characters, because here it also plays a significant role and gives a special charm to this picture.
Even during the first viewing, the thought did not leave me that I had definitely seen such an interesting work with color and color combinations, moreover, by a particular director. And then, when I read an interview with Autumn de Wilde, I finally understood that she herself said that she was inspired by the films of her favorite director Wes Anderson. And then I realized what all this reminds me of – namely, the richness of the color schemes of the Grand Budapest Hotel, but here, of course, we are not talking about some kind of borrowing, here we are talking more about the mastery of the production and the amazing skill of the artists decorators and fashion designers.
The costumes of the characters are a separate aspect to study, and there, first of all, are the dresses and costumes of Emma herself. Not only are they incredibly diverse and interesting (it was necessary to get me to start paying attention to such things), they also correspond to the narrative, that is, they reflect a certain attitude of the heroine herself to what she participates in. And that’s just great too! And they seriously worked on the clothes of the heroine, this is clearly visible. Well, I will also note the costumes of papa, Mr. Woodhouse, the pattern and color finish of which in some way coincides with the sofas and armchairs on which he sits, warily trying to catch traces of a draft, and at times it seems that only the physiognomy of papa himself rises above the chair.
Also, the landscapes of the English hinterland are also good and they are also good – at least immediately on a postcard!
Do not misunderstand me. If this film had only luxurious interiors and excellent costumes, but there would not have been a film as such – the hell with two, I would begin to swear like that! But here it is staged perfectly – you can’t say that this is a directorial debut at all – and the actors are wonderful, and what else is just a delight from a visual point of view, then I have only one question: how did the film crew manage to achieve such a thing? for a measly $10 million? In my opinion, everything here looks at least five times more expensive, and I must say that really talented people worked on this picture, and the entire film crew: the director, the actors, the cameraman, the set designers, and the artists by costumes.
I did not expect that this film would make such an impression on me that I would watch it again and again. But nevertheless it happened, which cannot but rejoice.
PS I listened to the licensed dubbing. Made, in general, qualitatively, I do not want to find fault. Yes, and with the translation everything seems to be fine there – the text is simple. Emma was voiced well, Mr. Knightley, in my opinion, lost a lot of things in the voice acting. But usually it always happens. At least the Russian dubbing should not spoil the impression.
PPS Cat Bublik, by the way, noticed that it is still indecent of me to admire the costume melodrama so much. Moreover, they do not glorify the man of labor there, but quite the contrary. This, said Bublik, can ruin your image as a cynical and implacable film critic. In response to this, it was noticed to Bublik that it’s better to let him take care of his image: I don’t give a damn about my image of a film critic, especially since I’m not a film critic at all, and he hasn’t defiled a single slipper for a month, which dishonors his image of a cynical and implacable cat. What to answer to this, the cat Bublik did not come up with, after which he thoughtfully went somewhere towards the kitchen, nervously shaking his tail.
Emma. movie meaning
Producer: Otem de Wilde
Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Josh O’Connor, Bill Nye, Callum Turner, Miranda Hart, Amber Anderson, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Oliver Chris, Connor Swindells, Tanya Reynolds
Budget: $10 million, Comedy melodrama, UK, 2020, 124 min.