EMMA - 2019 film

In 1800s England, a well meaning but selfish young woman meddles in the love lives of her friends.

Released: March 2020.

Director: Autumn de Wilde.

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy } Johnny Flynn | Josh O'Connor | Miranda Hart | Bill Nighy | Rupert Graves. 

Triggers/Content Advisory: PG13 for brief partial nudity.

Source: Rented. 

I was so disappointed with this movie. Emma is my favourite Jane Austen heroine (although Sense and Sensibility my favourite Austen novel) and I've watched the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow adaption at least six times. It's brilliant. But this movie lost something in translation.

The colour palette is whimsical and ethereal. Pastel pinks, yellows, blues, and greens make every scene lovely on the eye, and the set design is exquisite too. Coupled with perfect scene composition and cinematography, the movie‘s art direction is impeccable.  The soundtrack is gorgeous, as well. Together these elements reminded me of a ballet. That’s the aesthetic, I think.  

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have the magic of Austen’s Emma. The storytelling is lukewarm and tedious. There’s barely any humour, and the scenes merge together (each as dull as the one before). I honestly just wanted to inject the story with a few shots of something strong, because that’s what it needed - some punch. It misses out on so many emotional beats, leaving the story limpid. And because Austen doesn’t write shallow romance - there’s so much in her stories, so much in which you can lose yourself - the film adaptations should only amplify that. But Autumn de Wilde merely skims the surface.

I liked the cast, but there were hits and misses. Anya Taylor-Joy is terrific. Miranda Hart is the highlight (she’s hilarious and brilliant as Miss.Bates). Josh 'O Connor is a good Mr. Elton, too. But Bill Nighy’s Mr. Woodhouse has no personality and wanders around like he’s on the wrong set, and Johnny Flynn’s Mr. Knightley - although dashing - is a bit too serious and insipid. (Also, I don’t understand the point of his stripping down at the start of the movie). As for the rest of the cast of characters, they're uninspired. 

Emma is beautiful, but shallow. The plot is tedious. The cast is uneven. And yet, it's still lovely. 

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