Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Based on Jane Austen‘s beloved Novel, Emma. follows the trials and tribulations of Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) in Georgian and Regency-era England. Emma is a very handsome, clever and rich 21-year-old who has no intention of marrying anyone of her own. However, that doesn’t stop her from meddling into the romantic lives of her friends. That is until she finds herself at the center of her own romantic adventure.
There have been numerous adaptations to Austen’s novel in the past, but none compare to the originality of this one. It’s evident Director Autumn de Wilde had a clear vision for her version of Emma. and she has executed it perfectly. Her wide interior shots make the large rooms hover around the souls of her characters. While her close-ups between characters conversing, parallels their need for intimacy. Her experience as a Photographer and Music Video Director have given Emma. a sense of timing that guide the flow of the Film rather well. It’s what also gives it a quirky edge.
The Story is still relevant today even several years after Austen’s time. de Wilde and Screenwriter Eleanor Catton know Austen’s characters and words still hold relevance. They have kept the story the same, but changed the rhetoric between characters. Each character comes with contemporary humour and rhythm of speech. In doing so, there’s a present-day feel even if the Set and Production Design thrusts us into another era.
The Set designed by Stella Fox, and Production Design by Kave Quinn, take us into the Story in a mesmerizing way with each frame that de Wilde captures. We are listening to characters who sound modern, but we are seeing them interact within beautiful Georgian and Regency-era mansions that are meticulously- crafted. Then there are the glorious Costumes done by Alexandra Byrne who uses the clothing to depict the wealth of each character, giving these characters extra dimension.
Taylor-Joy is a perfect choice for Emma and gives a sublime performance. Just like her character, she’s a striking presence and devours our attention. Taylor-Joy brings a quick-wit and charm to the occasionally obnoxious Emma. However, she never shies away from Emma‘s dark side. She revels in her nasty remarks and nails her self-awareness in subtle gestures and facial expressions. Taylor-Joy also excels capturing Emma‘s compassion, which we see in every scene she shares with Mia Goth, who plays Emma’s best friend Harriet. Taylor-Joy is joined by an amazing Ensemble including Johnny Flynn, Goth, Callum Turner and some outstanding comedic performances from Bill Nighy, Josh O’Connor and Miranda Hart.
Universal Pictures Canada release EMMA. on Friday, February 28, 2020.