TheLatch—Reviews: Emma. is A Pure Delight and A Must-See For Austen Fans


For most people in their 30s, Emma was the Jane Austen studied in high school — usually accompanied by a viewing of Clueless, the cult-favourite 90s film.

Based on the 1815 story of a spoiled rich girl who meddles in other people’s personal lives, fans of Clueless were more interested in Cher’s (Alicia Silverstone) Beverly Hills life (and the love story between her and her step-brother Josh (Paul Rudd) than the actual novel itself.

Bringing a modern twist to the Austen classic for a young audience, students were introduced to the story through flip phones, nose jobs and some seriously quote-worthy lines. In fact, if you ask a handful of adults about reading the book at school, most would say: “Is that the one Clueless is based on?”

While the following year (1996) brought an accurate adaptation of the novel (starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Toni Collette, and Jeremy Northam), it is absolutely nothing compared to the delight that is Autumn De Wilde’s 2020 adaptation, Emma.

The film brings together some of Britain’s most-well respected thespians including Bill Nighy (Love Actually) and Miranda Bates (Call the Midwife) and pairs them with a gaggle of up-and-comers; including actor and folk singer Johnny Flynn (Les Miserables), Tanya Reynolds and Callum Turner (Sex Education), Josh O’Connor (The Crown), Mia Goth (High Life) and playing the titular character of Emma Woodhouse, American-born Anya Taylor-Joy (Peaky Blinders).

To say that it is just a period piece would be doing the film a serious injustice. Firstly, there is an actual period in the title — because our heroine is, while seriously flawed, exactly who she is.

She’s spoilt, narcissistic and impossible — yet, Taylor-Joy gives you a reason to like her. Even at her worst, you feel sorry for the spoiled rich girl because she absolutely means well and you find yourself, wanting — no, desperate for Emma and Mr Knightley to fall in love.

Flynn’s Mr Knightley is brooding, romantic and soulful and this could well be his “Colin Firth as Mr Darcy” breakout moment.

Stand-outs also include O’Connor’s Mr Elton who has some serious comedic chops as a  bumbling priest who is made all the better by marrying Mrs Elton (Turner) — an insane woman who wears fun hairstyles and has an incredibly annoying, yet loveable demeanor. The pairing is a sight to behold.

As for the film’s direction, it is a feast for the eyes. Stunning costumes from the 1900s, little to no makeup, an immaculate set of grandeur and rolling greenery that you would expect from the setting and the time.

De Wilde, a photographer and music video director, could not have made her feature directorial debut any more superior and is certainly one to watch (IMO!).

The nuances, the approach to the original text and the narrative all flow together to create a perfectly scrumptious adaptation of a Jane Austen classic.

As Mr Knightley so stunningly puts my feelings about the film. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”

Emma. hits cinemas on February 13, 2020.

WATCH: The Official Trailer for Emma.

Emma. hits cinemas on February 13, 2020.