After some confusion about when the movie’s wide release date actually was, I had the pleasure of finally catching Emma with one of my good friends from college. Conveniently, my friend also happens to be a fan of Jane Austen and my Austen-inspired books. Heart you, Jen!
I walked in expecting to love every moment of the movie. How could I not?
Let’s start with the good.
Anya Taylor-Joy could not have been more perfectly cast. I loved every judgmental flick of her giant brown eyes, furrow of her eyebrows, and quirk of her lips. She appeared ever regal and distinguished around the sometimes silly people she surrounded herself with.
Bill Nighy can do no wrong, and I will entertain no arguments against that fact. Besides the story of Emma, he was one of the main reasons I was so excited about this movie. I’ve been a fan ever since Love Actually, and I knew he’d do a memorable job in this one. I was not disappointed; however, I wanted more Mr. Woodhouse! We saw most of his funny moments in the trailer, but there are a few more gems to look forward to.
Another comedy powerhouse, Miranda Hart was a treasure as Miss Bates. So good. She delighted me and of course made me cringe every time she was on screen. Then, she gave an equally heartfelt performance in that fateful scene where Emma takes her down a notch.
I loved that they added humor to the movie. It didn’t feel as earnest as some other Jane Austen adaptations, and it shouldn’t be. As my friend, fellow author, and Austen enthusiast Jackie says, Jane Austen writes comedies! Some of these characters are intentionally ridiculous. They are supposed to be funny, and this one was.
Let’s not forget about the costumes. Not surprisingly, Emma looked exquisite throughout the movie with her enviable collection of smart little jackets. (I’ll take the yellow one, please). Jane Fairfax, as Emma’s equally eligible foe, was just as prettily dressed. On the other hand, Mrs. Elton’s costumes, or at least her head adornments, became increasingly ridiculous and scene stealing as she gained more screen time and attention.
How have I gotten this far without addressing the butt scene? Perhaps in an attempt to rival Darcy’s famous wet shirt scene, this movie gives the ladies what they want right off the bat, almost before it was earned, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the nice slice of male anatomy, but still. Minutes into the movie, we get a full body naked shot of Mr. Knightley from behind. Yes, he looks good, but I prefer to get to know a guy a little first…maybe it’s just me.
Speaking of Knightley, played by Johnny Flynn, neither Jen or I was very satisfied with this version. Jen said he grew on her in the end, but I never fully came around to him or his chemistry with this Emma. Maybe it was his fair hair or maybe his height (not that there’s anything wrong with shorter guys at all), but he wasn’t the Knightley we pictured in our heads.
The runtime of the movie was 124 minutes, and at times, it did feel long. Considering it is a period drama, I was largely OK with the leisurely pace, but this is one I might’ve been more comfortable watching at home where I could lounge on the couch, snack, drink some wine, and take breaks. The story stayed faithful to the source material for the most part, though, so no complaints. There may have been a slight diversion at the end with the Harriet/Knightley situation, but honestly, I can’t remember for sure, and it didn’t taint the story.
For fans of Jane Austen, this is a must see. For fans of period dramas, this is a maybe go see. I don’t buy many movies myself, but I will definitely be picking this one up to enjoy again at home.