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  • Gareth Crook

Emma. (2020)

Emma is 21 we’re told as this begins, with “little in her life to vex her”. Lucky Emma I think. Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a posh pain in the arse. It’s a comedy, apparently, but I’m left waiting some time before even the slightest of smirks. It looks great though, in the way that most period dramas do. Sweeping vistas with vast country estates, furnished in meticulous grandeur. Thank god for Bill Nighy as Mr Woodhouse, Emma’s father, at least he’s mildly amusing in his general disinterest of everything. Based on a Jane Austin novel, none of this is a surprise. If you’re after something unexpected, look elsewhere. This isn’t bad though. Emma’s only concern is social standing, meddling and manipulating those around her, like the perpetually unsure Miss Smith (Mia Goth) much to the annoyance of Mr Knightly (Johnny Flynn). It’s a large cast, almost unruly and does feel bloated, but at the core, the main characters do work and the casting is pretty fantastic, Miranda Hart particularly is fun as the easily distracted Miss Bates. When I say Emma likes to meddle, that is true. However she meddles with purpose and for all the flowery nature of her world, she’s by far the most real being in it. To put it plainly, Emma takes no shit. Not from the disapproving Mr Knightly or the infatuated Mr Elton. I wouldn’t take it from Mr Elton either, he’s a bloody idiot. Emma herself doesn’t bother with, well with anything. She’s happy where she is, for now at least. She harbours a secret desire to be a future Mrs Churchill, to wed the mysterious Frank Churchill, whom we don’t meet until the second half of the film. She’s got competition though, from Jane Fairfax. Of course this is all misjudged, Emma not being as good a judge a character as she thought. Churchill is meddler himself, or a player, either way he’s no good. Arrogant and self centred. It all has an air of silliness. Mr Elton surprises all, by marrying, brilliantly played by Tanya Reynolds from the hysterical TV show ‘Sex Education’. Connor Swindells from the same show also features, although both are sadly underused. Confused? I’m sure you’re not, but if you are, is just because I’m blurting our a load of character names, really it’s all very trivial and predicable. Mr Knightly turning out to be the best catch. Emma turning out to be somewhat naive, Bill Nighy turning out to look exceptional dapper in every scene and capable of portraying his character with the mere lift of an eyebrow. Emma finds herself in unfamiliar circumstances, out of control, without options. The elegant rug pulled from under her. A fine mess she’s got herself into. This really isn’t my kind of thing, but I enjoyed it all the same. It’s pretty forgettable though and I’m sure the book is much much better.



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