Anya Taylor-Joy plays the formidable young Emma Woodhouse in another adaptation of Emma, the classic 1816 realist novel by Jane Austen. Taylor-Joy possesses refined traits and mannerisms, perfectly portraying a “handsome, clever and rich” Emma.

The film is set in the picturesque and beautifully green fictional village ‘Highbury’ and is directed by Autumn de Wilde. The elegant ‘Hartfield’ estate is where Emma and her nervous and gentle father, Mr. Woodhouse reside. In the film, young Mr. George Knightley, Jane Fairfax, Miss Bates, cringey Mr. Elton and Emma’s dear doe-eyed friend Harriet Smith often visit Hartfield residence, drinking tea amongst a most lavish set.

Segmented into seasons, an ode and reflection to each ‘Volume’ in the novel, the film portrays how an array of relationships evolve and disintegrate over time, particularly through Emma’s indecent and “unfeeling” meddling, as she says herself. Turbulent and perilous relationships are elegantly depicted through a blue filtered winter storm in an awkward scene with Miss Smith and Mr. Robert Martin. A climatic and pivotal heated argument between Mr. Knightley and Emma, is fittingly highlighted as the hot summer sun shines down on them. Nearing the films ending, Spring flourishes, just how Emma’s journey to self-discovery and maturity has progressed.

Marriage, mayhem, meddling and magnificent cinematography are abundant. Particular character stand outs in the film go to Bill Nighy’s portrayal of twitchy and paranoid Mr. Woodhouse and Miranda Hart’s entertaining depiction of the adoring Miss Bates. Their quirky adaptations of the characters add a uniqueness that had audiences giggling. Comedic elements like these give the love film an engaging spark. 

An opulent set design and decadent costumes in Autumn de Wilde’s version of Emma, make for an accurate depiction of the traditional society and ‘courting’ culture of the time. The mix of establishing and close- up shots and hand-held camera movements profoundly and positively influenced the audience experience of the film. This iconic romantic comedy starts with a marriage and ends with one. The most pertinent moments in the novel are seamlessly woven into the film, most memorably when Johnny Flynn’s character Mr. Knightley confesses; “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”

Movie Review By Zara Zampaglione

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