• Evan Symmonds

Nicely done, Emma


Caught this in the cinema last night. Completely joyful adaptation. It's probably gone straight to the top of my list of favourite Austen adaptations. Of course the countryside and houses looked magnificent, though I did think the pastel shades on all the internal decor might have been a bit over the top. A great ensemble performance, and it did feel as though the film took its time quite reasonably. To start with it felt almost as though we were settling in for a series adaptation. This was all to the good, though, as it fully allows the audience to settle into the world the film is creating. The gently simmering attraction and desire between Knightley and Emma is centre-stage in this adaptation, and it succeeds wonderfully. In other versions the final get-together has felt forced and unnatural, as though Emma was falling in love with her own elder brother. There is some element of that in the original novel, no doubt, but this film makes their relationship entirely credible and really does involve us in the outcome.

To squeeze everything into a two hour film has to mean some omissions, and in this case the Fairfax/Churchill relationship is a touch underdeveloped, and I couldn't help but feel that some scenes involving Churchill's flirtatious leading-on of Emma might have been left on the cutting room floor.

Anna Taylor-Joy is as exquisite as her multi-ringletted hair, and perfectly cast; Johnny Flynn as Knightley combines authority and liveliness of feeling that lets us think he and Emma are rightly matched. If there is a show-stealer it's Bill Nighy, quite understated, but endearing as Mr Woodhouse, where too often he's only been portratyed as a rather contemptible hypochondriac. Many will love Miranda Hart as Miss Bates too, genteel and comic, and a delightful foil.

Happy to watch this one again. Now, perhaps the same team can give us Mansfield Park as well.

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