Friday Film Review--"Emma."
A beloved classic by Jane Austen gets yet another cinematic remake. If you want to know which story we’re talking about—let’s just say that Libby Wadman isn’t “Clueless’ about her reaction, with this week’s Friday Film Review.
In these trying times, Director Autumn de Wilde has brought forth a light-hearted, gentler and kinder film in the guise of “Emma.,” based on the novel of the same name by Jane Austen.
“Emma” is the story of a 21-year old 19th century woman, who, given her station in life, really hasn’t got any substantial responsibilities to occupy her. Instead, she amuses herself by competing with her friend, Mr. Knightley, to interfere in others’ romantic affairs. Emma perceives it as harmless fun until the tables are turned.
For diehard Austen fans who may worry that this film version of “Emma” will not at all reflect the original story, take heart, screenwriter Eleanor Catton has done a lovely job of maintaining the story by incorporating sections of the novel word for word to keep it true. That said, she has also embellished and changed a few things, but rather than ruin the story it seems possible Austen would make these changes herself if she were writing “Emma” today.
Director de Wilde did her job to perfection. Taking what Austen intended to be a rather comic poke at 1815 society, de Wilde has maintained that comic sense through a delightful visual interpretation that makes a rather ho-hum story come alive in a most engaging way. From eye-rolls to well-choreographed movements to her imaginative use of fire screens, de Wilde enchants the viewers at every step. Her extreme attention to detail starts with the unusual visual title and runs through to the last of the end credits.
The other piece that makes this film fun to watch is the cast. While everyone comes together in this ensemble, there are two standouts.
Bill Nighy, as his best understated comic self, nails Emma’s very quirky, hypochondriac father. The other, Miranda Hart, who some might know from “Call” the Midwife, is delightful as the overly gentle and dull Miss Bates.
Along with the direction and acting, another vital piece of this film is the cinematography. Christopher Blauvelt’s keen eye for capturing the lush mansions and their surroundings allows the viewer to feel a part of the goings on. If nothing else this is a beautiful film to watch.
“Emma.” is well worth the watching, not necessarily for the story, but for what Autumn de Wilde did to breathe new life into it and to keep the viewer on their toes.
Oh, and by the way, for those viewers who may wonder why the period in the title after “Emma”, well it’s simple. According to de Wilde, there’s a period because well, it’s a period piece. Just one more bit of her cleverness in a film that has so many clever bits.
So, when it’s once again safe to venture forth, go see “Emma”. It’s an enjoyable way to at least momentarily relieve the stress we’ve all been under.
“Emma.” is rated R for brief partial nudity and is an enjoyable 2 hours and 4 minutes in length.
This is Libby Wadman with the Friday Film Review reminding you that film is always fun and fascinating.