This is a perky, if unnecessary, adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel. Directed by Autumn de Wilde (what a gorgeous name!) with a screenplay by Eleanor Catton, the film is good entertainment. I felt that it was ‘Austen lite’, as with the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. Although I liked the tempestuous quirks of Anya Taylor-Joy in the role of Emma, I still prefer Gwyneth Paltrow, from the 1996 adaptation.
Although some licence is taken with the finer details of the story, there is some original dialogue. The characters are more noticeably passionate, especially the men, who aren’t afraid to show their emotions. Servants are very much in evidence (it’s often noted that they are almost invisible in Austen’s books), practically rolling their eyes and sighing at the ridiculousness of their employers.
This adaptation is literally cheeky! We see a nude Mr Knightley striding about before he dons his starchy clothes, while Emma sneakily lifts her skirt to warm her backside by the fire.
Other things I liked about this film are the music (lots of it – opera, folk songs, instrumental), the cast (including Miranda Hart as Miss Bates!) and that it’s refreshingly free of cultural references shoehorned in to reflect current social or political agendas (one of my pet hates for period dramas in particular).
The only thing I disliked about this film is that Emma has a nosebleed (yes, this is a spoiler but allowable I think). Just randomly happens while she’s talking to Knightley. Maybe it’s intended to be symbolic, but still gross in my opinion.
Interesting fact: two of the minor characters, Mr Martin and Mrs Elton, are played by actors who were both in the cast of Netflix’s Sex Education TV series. A very different kind of show… or is it?!
I probably wouldn’t re-watch, but I enjoyed this recent adaptation and would recommend it.
Low-resolution poster taken from Wikipedia.