Focus Features
Reviewed by: Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Grade: B+
Director: Autumn de Wilde
Screenwriter: Eleanor Catton; based on Emma, a novel by Jane Austen
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth,
Release Date: February 21, 2020

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like”
Jane Austen (1815)

Emma Woodhouse, the protagonist of Jane Austen’s novel by the same name, is described as a beautiful, high spirited, intelligent and spoiled twenty-year old woman residing with her father in the village of Hartfield, England. After her mother’s death and her sister’s marriage she becomes the mistress of the house and decides never to marry, since she inherited £30,000 and would not have to depend on any man’s fortune. But she does, however, love to make matches for others.

Director Autumn de Wilde’s current version of Emma follows Austen’s premise in this comedy-of-manners and satirizes the behavior of the upper-middle-class. The screenplay, written by Eleanor Catton, is filled with chatty, gossipy theatrical conversations about inheritance, a proper match, one’s “station-in-life” and any other deviations from the norms of the landed gentry of Great Britain circa 1815.

Anya Taylor-Joy, in the role of Emma, plays the protagonist with great command and aplomb. She is clearly the queen who rules the nest. Though she does not intend to marry, she has a brief liaison with Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) leading her ultimately to realize that it is George Knightley (Johnny Flynn) that she adores.

Bill Nighy presents Henry Woodhouse, Emma’s father, as an aging hypochondriac concerned mostly about his health. He never remarried and loves Emma very much.

Mia Goth plays Harriet Smith, Emma’s best friend and confidant, with great sensitivity, as an unsophisticated girl still attending boarding school, who finally marries Robert Martin (Connor Swindells), a successful farmer.

Johnny Flynn attests to the decency and good character of George Knightley, Emma’s neighbor and her ultimate love interest. He is critical of her on many occasions, but as the owner of a large estate, he a “good-match” for the status-hungry young lady.

Costumes for film were created by Alexandra Byrne and conform beautifully to the style, color and the norms of the 1800’s. Photography for Emma was done by Christophe Blauvelt, focusing on the grand Chavenage House, a 1576 Cotswold stone manor structure, located in Beverson Gloucestershire, U.K.

124 minutes Rated: NR © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer

Story: A-
Acting: B+
Technical: B+
Overall: B+

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