“In 1800s England, a well meaning but selfish young woman meddles in the love lives of her friends.” –IMDB
Yes, another Jane Austen movie. Like Star Wars, James Bond, Marvel, they just sell. And I’m one of the people that will constantly eat them up. But that almost wasn’t the case with this most-recent adaptation of Emma. Let me clarify…
As much as the American and Irish in me fights against it, I really do love all things British. British humor, music, :ahem men ahem:, television, movies…I’m all in. I grew up with my mom watching Sense and Sensibility on almost a weekly basis and, as much as I think Gwyneth Paltrow is THE WORST, I love her 1996 version of Emma. It made me dread seeing this one. Well that and the fact that the trailers for this updated version were god-awful. They made the movie look so Instagram-obsessed, elitist, and bratty. Knowing the story and how it actually deals with those issues (I’m not saying it’s not elitist, obviously it is…it’s set in nineteenth century, upper-middle class, British society), but the story of Emma delves into superficiality, class struggle, and prejudice. The trailer took all the things that would turn people off about Emma and shrunk it down into two minutes.
The movie even starts out a bit frivolous (maybe even a bit Wes Anderson-y), but after about half-an-hour, it starts to get its footing. And by the time I finished the movie, I realized how hard it would be to actually screw up the story of Emma. It’s a classic for a reason. Us 90s kids can watch Clueless probably once a week for a reason. Ultimately, I can see why the filmmakers probably thought it was a good time to revive this story. It’s characters represent the different types of vanity, ignorance, and prejudice that are even more pronounced in these “social media times” and it seems like the filmmakers were hoping this story might influence the influencers who see it.
All of that being said, if you’re not a Jane Austen fan, a fan of period pieces, or a fan of romantic comedies, skip this one. It won’t be the movie to change your mind on that. But if you’re looking for something sweet, easy-to-watch, and not too demanding, this is worth a watch. Or, if you can endure two hours of Gwyneth Paltrow (I know, I know…it’s a real struggle), I’d still say that’s the Emma standard.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also see: Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Marie Antoinette
With: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth
Directed By: Autumn de Wilde