Movie Review: Emma.
In earlier film versions of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma, the title character’s elderly father is stationed permanently in a comfy chair, worrying about winter drafts and drawing a blanket around his knees. But in director Autumn de Wilde’s latest offering, Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) hops down stairs, jokes around and doesn’t complain nearly as much about his old-age insecurities.
I think it’s a good metaphor for the sprightliness of this new production, a Regency confection of pastel costumes, intricate hairstyles and witty drawing-room conversation. The title character, played sharply but sensitively by Anya Taylor-Joy, is a young, wealthy Englishwoman who loves making matches for other people but doesn’t feel the need to be coupled herself. A close family friend, Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn), has watched her grow up and is used to treating her as a child, but eventually his feelings start to change.
I can’t say that Flynn is my favorite Knightley—I love Jeremy Northam’s take on the character from the 1996 film with Gwyneth Paltrow—but he does check all of the boxes as the secretly lovelorn hero, with his longing looks and scolding tone meant to correct Emma’s thoughtlessness. (Don’t we often find the greatest faults in the people we love most?) It’s fun to see how he morphs out of the friend zone and into someone “infinitely more dear.”
Should you see it? Yes, I enjoyed it very much. – J.J.