Emma. (2020) is the latest adaptation of the comedy novel Emma by Jane Austen. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this film stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy and Mia Goth. This film follows Emma (Taylor-Joy) as she and her friend Harriet (Goth) intertwine in a world of romance, friendship and drama as they slowly fall in love with the same man, George (Flynn).
Visually, this film is stunning to watch. Not only is the period setting so well realised, from the costumes to the production design, but there is a distinct colour palette that suits this film incredibly well. It is light and girly, filled with pinks and warm colours that help create a warm tone to the film. Each costume is so beautifully created, and the beauty is highlighted with the open cinematography and airy quality of the film overall.
There is so much charm with a film like this. It has a very British tone to it, which is unfortunately becoming less popular to see in the cinema so it is nice to have a film like this go so bold with its tonal choices. The script here never goes too heavy on comedy or drama, instead finding a nice balance between the two and keeping the charm throughout the entire story. This is the most flirtatious U-rated film I think I have ever seen, and yet it completely works in the rating.
Whilst most of the performances here are just fine, the two standouts are from leads Anya Taylor-Joy and Mia Goth who both give wonderful performances in their roles. Whilst I think they may be underwritten, it is their performances that make the audience believe in their friendship. Their fun personalities come out, giving the characters some life in what could have been very bland roles.
The characters, unfortunately, seem very underwritten and lacking in personality. Emma at points came off as completely unlikeable, and this may be a fault of the original book, but even by the end of the film I was not sold on her or cheering her on to have a happy ending. Aside from Mia Goth’s Harriet, I ended up disliking the writing of every single character, either being underwritten to have no personality or narrative, or having so much going on that their storylines felt forced. I could have especially done with more of a story and connection with Johnny Flynn’s George, who only really comes to life in the last third of the film.
For an adaptation of a book that is meant to be filled with romance, it saddened me that I had no connection with any of the romances or relationships throughout the entire film. I was a lot more interested in the friendship aspect between Emma and Harriet, and yet that seems to drift away in the final third of the film. There was little build-up between the big romances of the film, and even with the few sequences of conversation and charming relationship moments we get scattered throughout, it still seemed to come out of nowhere and lack the charm that this film otherwise has.
There are several subplots that are intriguing and add a journey for the film to follow, but they seem to be smaller moments that never truly go anywhere. There is one particular storyline between Emma and Miss Bates (played by Miranda Hart) which offered up some fantastic commentary on living situations and poverty, even back in the 19th-century. There was a lot that could have been done with that storyline, and yet it only expands onto two scenes that primarily focus on Emma’s point of view and not Miss Bates. I wish more had been done, because it is still a subject matter that impacts our society in this day and age.
Whilst this film does have some charm to it and is extremely aesthetically pleasing, I unfortunately found the heart lacking. I never truly found myself caring for any of the characters, especially Emma, and the romances did not come off as true or natural in any way. Whilst there are a few good chuckles to have, I cannot say that I would personally check this one out. There have been better comedy period pieces in the past few years that are worth much more of your time.
Have you had a chance to check out Emma. yet? Was this right up your street, or were you disappointed by the film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.