Movie Review: Emma. (2020)

Emma 2020

Emma is a fantastic matchmaker–just ask her. She successfully paired up her beloved governess with a local widower, and buoyed by that success, Emma turns her sights on finding a husband for her friend, Harriet. In Regency England, successful matchmaking entails more than just joining two souls in love–it also involves ensuring financial security and securing/maintaining social status. Emma’s brother-in-law and family friend George Knightley warns her against the matchmaking shenanigans, but what could possibly go wrong when she starts trying to pair up the socially disadvantaged Harriet with the local bachelors? Lots. Lots could go wrong.

Emma. is, of course, based on Jane Austen’s classic novel. Confession: Emma is my least favorite Jane Austen book. I only read it once, but I just remember finding Emma herself absolutely insufferable with her meddling. Yes, I know that’s kind of the point–Austen herself acknowledged that Emma could be hard to like–but I was intrigued by the cast in this movie. So, when Kelly recommended the movie to me, I couldn’t wait to watch it, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a fun, delightful movie that rather effortlessly blends romance and comedy. Thanks so much for the wonderful recommendation, Kelly!

A big part of what works so well in Emma. is the charm of Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma. To the film’s credit, it doesn’t try to minimize how awful she can be at times. However, even when she’s being a jerk, she has a certain well-meaning likability about her. The whole cast is really good, though. If you watch a lot of British television and film, you’ll recognize many of the faces here, from Josh O’Connor (The Durrells of Corfu, The Crown) as the slimy local vicar to Miranda Hart (Call the Midwife) as Emma’s unwitting local social nemesis to a scene-stealing Bill Nighy as Emma’s hypochondriac father. I wasn’t familiar with Johnny Flynn, who plays Knightley. I initially had some reservations about his boy band hair, but he’s actually an excellent Mr. Knightley!

It’s been a trend in recent years to transfer Austen’s books to more modern settings–not always successfully, in my humble opinion–so I liked that this movie preserved the Regency England setting. (In fact, the period after the title is supposed to indicate that it is a period film.) On a side note, this movie is the first to be directed by photographer Autumn de Wilde, and the cinematography, sets, and costumes are all quite stunning.

I highly recommend this movie, regardless of whether you’re familiar with the novel. I watched it with my family, and I was the only one in the room who had read the book, but we all enjoyed the movie. And it has even inspired me to give the book another try!

Are you an Emma fan? What’s your favorite Jane Austen adaptation? Have you watched this movie? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on this item or to place it on hold.



Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Emma. (2020)”

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