It is a truth universally acknowledged that a period drama in possession of good production values must be in want of a discerning audience

Emma. promenades onto the screen with a playful sense of sensuality beneath its Regency ruffles, a delightful dance of wit and style that pays homage to Jane Austen’s sharp social observations and enduring humour. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaptation is a vibrant tableau of early 19th-century England, where propriety reigns supreme but passion simmers just beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered in stolen glances and subtle gestures.

Anya Taylor-Joy graces us with her portrayal of Emma Woodhouse, the self-assured and meddlesome heroine who navigates the picturesque, pastel-hued world of Highbury with an air of entitled confidence. Taylor-Joy captures Emma’s charm and flaws in equal measure, making her both endearing and infuriating, just as Austen intended. Emma, of course, fancies herself a master matchmaker, orchestrating romantic entanglements for her friends and neighbours with little regard for the chaos she might unleash and when Mia Goth’s Harriet Smith becomes the unwitting subject of Emma’s schemes, Johnny Flynn’s George Knightley watches with a mix of amusement and exasperation, his steady presence providing a counterpoint to Emma’s capriciousness.

Visually, Emma. is a feast for the senses. The film’s cinematography, handled with deft precision by Christopher Blauvelt, brings to life the lush English countryside and the opulent interiors, each frame meticulously composed like a candy-coloured period painting. The costumes, designed by Alexandra Byrne, are a riot of colour and detail, capturing the extravagance and elegance of a romanticised Regency era. The production design immerses the viewer in a world where every piece of furniture, every fabric, and every landscape is a testament to the film’s commitment to authenticity.

Yet beneath the surface elegance, there is a simmering energy, a tension that de Wilde masterfully teases out, particularly in the formal dance scenes. Here, Emma. is at its most mischievous, with the choreography of social manners hinting at the unspoken desires and suppressed passions of its characters and the Westons’ grand ball positively crackles with sexual tension, adding a layer of complexity and modernity to the story.

In comparison to the lush extravagance of Netflix’s Bridgerton or the anachronistic wit of Apple TV’s Dickinson, Emma. can hold its head high, confident in its own distinctive charm. While Bridgerton embraces a wonderfully modern sense and sensibility with its diverse casting and contemporary flair, Emma. remains more wedded to its period authenticity, appealing to Austen purists with its dedication to detail. And unlike Dickinson, which reimagines its historical subject with a bold, modern twist, Emma. remains true to the spirit of Austen’s original work, albeit with a vibrant, fresh energy that brings the old world to life in new ways.

Finding a place for itself some 25 years after the one-two punch of 1995’s Clueless and 1996’s Emma, Autumn de Wilde’s Emma. leaves its mark as a visually stunning, charmingly acted piece that captures the essence of Austen’s world, even if it occasionally sacrifices emotional depth for aesthetic beauty. Anya Taylor-Joy’s spirited performance, supported by a talented ensemble, ensures that this adaptation remains a delightful journey into romanticised Regency England

emma review
Score 10/10
logo

Related posts

xXx: Return Of Xander Cage (2017) puts the 'exXxtreme' in 'exXxtremely bad'

We may be marking the return of Xander Cage, but did anyone really notice he was away? 2002’s “xXx” was a dumb but fun extreme action-adventure, a 90’s ‘attitude’ hangover given a last millennial hurrah. Cage never felt as iconic as the film believed him to be, hence his easy replacement by...

Doctor Who – 73 Yards

Doctor Who - 73 Yards

It follows that I have a theory about Doctor Who's supernatural sidestep 73 YardsFolk horror and DOCTOR WHO is a match made in TV heaven and, of course, it’s something the series has dabbled with across the years, most recently in THE WITCHFINDERS and more classically in the...

Netflix’s new zombie franchise is dead on arrival. Army Of The Dead (2021) Review

Netflix's new zombie franchise is dead on arrival. Army Of The Dead (2021) Review

Having duly resurrected and delivered the cinematic curate’s egg that was ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE, all eyes eagerly turned west to Nevada to see what Snyder would do nest because he sure as shit wasn’t going to go to Disneyland. Instead, he accepted a suitcase of money from Netflix in...

Gerald’s Game (2017) Review

Gerald's Game (2017) Review

I vividly remember reading “Gerald’s Game” the first time, because it’s maybe the only book that’s ever made me physically jump while reading it. On first consideration, Stephen King's story of psychological survival horror, notably lacking in overtly supernatural elements, would seem...