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Do you guys remember that hand flex scene in the 2005 version of “Pride and Prejudice”, and the amount of tension that resulted from that nearly twenty-second bit? Well, “Emma”, directed by Autumn de Wilde, might just rival that scene.
Before reading on, here is your first and final spoiler warning. However, since the source material has been around for about two hundred and five years, I think it’s okay.
The film follows Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) as she meddles in the love lives of her friends. After her close friend and governess marries and moves out, Emma finds companionship in Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), who Emma tries to set up with Vicar Elton (Josh O’Conner), who has a much higher status than Harriet. However, Harriet is in love with Robert Martin (Conner Swindells), a local tenant farmer to Emma’s sister’s husband’s brother, George Knightley (Johnny Flynn).
Confused? Here’s a handy graph, courtesy of The Guardian:
Got it? Anyway, moving on!
With every Jane Austen adaptation, one must always assume that every character will be at their most dramatic, and “Emma” is no exception. All the actors had terrific chemistry with one another, and all of the relationships and banter felt natural.
At one point, the main characters go to a ball. Here we get one of the most romantically tense scenes in recent cinema: two characters, Emma and George Knightley dancing together, without gloves. While this may seem like a silly note, it actually proves historically accurate for them to not wear gloves after a meal. Another one of the great things about this film was the historical accuracy. While no period piece is perfect, this one definitely did its research.
One of the few things that may distract the viewer from the story was the relationships between the characters and who was who. I’ll admit I cheated and had a character reference with me while I watched it. However, once I could identify which character was which the rest was smooth sailing.
Most importantly, the film provided much-needed escapism. First, the music, which was a mixture of vibrant classical music and some traditional English folk tunes, really captured the spirit and drama of Emma’s life. Next, the intricate sets, every little detail was thought out and nothing was put in there by accident. And finally, the costumes! Everything just felt so perfect, like the fancy life in England you always wanted to have.
Finally, the most important thing is that this film had a happy ending. Many directors will tease the audience into thinking there will be one end, but will then slip in a plot-twist right at the end. However, “Emma” is not the case. Yes, the ending can be predictable, but it’s what the audience suspects, and sometimes that’s what needs to be done. Sometimes, the world needs a happy ending.
In a very, very rare instance, I give this film a 10/10. It’s a delightful film that will have you smiling from beginning to end.
“Emma” is available to rent, starting at $5.99 from YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.