I never knew if I was supposed to like or dislike the handsome, clever, and rich Emma Woodhouse. I was especially perplexed watching the character in first-time director Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel “Emma.”
Over the years, there has been plenty of adaptations of the novel–multiple TV versions and, of course, the well-received 1996 movie venture Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow and let us not forget Clueless. Maybe I am getting older. I, for sure, know my memory is not what it used to be, but I don’t remember the meddlesome matchmaking Emma being as cold-hearted as she was portrayed in this new movie.
Not that I didn’t like it.
Jane Austen’s beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending is reimagined in this delicious new film adaptation of EMMA. Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.
I much more remember Emma, a 20-year-old snob who enjoys arranging marriages for everyone but herself. Not a mean girl.
Perhaps we’re not supposed to adore this Emma.
Let’s be clear; there is a whole lot to like about this movie. To start, Anya Taylor-Joy is mesmerizing–it’s pretty apparent why the New York Post named her the breakout star of 2020. Next, the scenery in like confectionary (one critic wrote that he wanted to lick the screen). And finally, the Georgian-era is merely fascinating. I, for one, love to see how these obnoxiously rich people behaved.
Oh, and it’s funny, the satirical knife of Emma’s own hypocrisy is so enjoyable.
What else … the movie is romantic and bold and tailored for our moment–all things I enjoyed.
But, there are some things not to like about the movie.
Emma’s “restless queen bee” attitude is more CW (is that even a television network anymore) than it is complicated. She–and the movie–can be a bit boring. And, dare I say it, she doesn’t bear any relation to Austen’s Emma.
Though I will say that once I quieted the noise in my head (the comparisons), I walked out with an astute opinion about Emma.–it is just plain old fashioned fun (with a relevant current undertone).