This latest adaptation of Emma. directed by Autumn de Wilde should be viewed as Austen for the Instagram generation heavily filtered.
Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a spoilt young lady of 21 years of age who has never had to struggle or suffer any hardship. To fill her days she likes to meddle and matchmake in others lives.
It’s picture perfect with a dazzling array of filters: indigence, charm, pride, frivolity but crucially with all the subtlety stripped out so requiring little industry of the audience perhaps just to keep their eyes open for the 125 minutes run time. The director Autumn de Wilde’s background is in music videos and so the imagery and colour is spot on but the direction is too fast for the subtlety of Austen’s words.
The overbearing country/regency soundtrack is an assault on the ears. The acting is fine and Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn) certainly tries to give another Austen hero, last century’s Mr Darcy (Colin Firth), a good run for his money but doesn’t quite do it.
Any adaptation should have something new or take a different look at the originating text. This version is intent on girl power and feelings. The frothy feelings and vulnerability that the male characters display are meant to show that not all men are brutes.
There is certainly an attempt or at least a flirtation with some deeper idea but neither the script or direction commit and so what the audience is left with is a rather simplistic and superficial adaptation of Austen’s Emma.
Emma. is released in cinemas across the UK on 14 February.
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