Anya Taylor-Joy wins us over in the latest Jane Austin adaptation.
Jane Austen’s “Emma” is the story of the 21-year-old Emma Woodhouse, who’s described as “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition… and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” Yo put it bluntly, she’s a selfish and yet ravishing aristocrat, who doesn’t believe in marriage or responsibilities. And yet, she has won Jane Austen fans over with her characteristics.
After Gwyneth Paltrow and Alicia Silverstone (in the modern version “Clueless”), Anya Taylor-Joy is the latest young actress to portray her. She has earned our attention with her roles in “The Witch,” “Split,” and “Thoroughbreds,” and now with “Emma,” she gives the audience an exquisite performance, which shows us her characteristics and personality.
The latest movie version is not always as exhilarating as it intends to be, but there are enough bright spots to make this watchable.
Among the other characters in Emma’s life, her friend is Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), whom Emma wants to keep her for herself; her suitor is George Knightley (Johnny Flynn), who is older and wiser than she is; and her father is Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy), who, underneath the wealthy nature, is also a widower.
Director Autumn de Wilde (in her directorial debut) and screenplay writer Eleanor Catton both give “Emma” a ravishing look that brings out the best of Jane Austen’s literature. The costumes, decor, hairstyles, performances, and sets convince us of that nature.
However, “Emma” is not without its faults.
The negative aspects consist of its narrative, which basically just limps along, and its lack of focus for some of the other supporting characters. They would also include Harriet’s would-be suitor Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor) and the arrogant Frank Chruchhill (Callum Turner). I didn’t see any spark in those two, the way I saw for Emma and Harriet, and felt they were just dragging the film down.
The story is not always interesting or risk-taking, but really, we must single out the stars and designs, because they save the show.
The performances from Taylor-Joy and Goth are admirable in the ways they bring out the best of their characters. The former is a snobbish yet charming girl, and the latter is more in the romance, despite some hits & misses for her. They’ve had their differences, and they still remain good friends. Both their acting is full of life and resonate with the literature characters.
The costumes are designed by Alexandra Byrne (Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” and “The Avengers”), and each actor looks passionate in these period outfits-the dresses, hats, bonnets, scarfs, and pants. The music, composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer, is balanced and orchestrated well at a timely manner. And the cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt (“Speed” and “Mid90s”) gives makes the images look bright and whimsical, especially when the levity merges within the dialogue and situations.
Aside from its downsides, this is an elegant and attractive film adaptation with a likable snob.