The story of title character Emma is a timeless classic. Created by Jane Austen, it follows a young woman (Anya Taylor-Joy) who prides herself on her good looks, charm and wit. Thrust with the responsibility of looking after her father (Bill Nighy) after her older sister decided to get married and have eventually had a child, Emma vows that she will never to follow down the same path for she does not need a man in her life in order to be happy. In the eyes of Mr. Woodhouse, Emma can do no wrong – the whole world seemingly revolves around her.
One of Emma’s past-times includes helping others, especially if it means making herself look good in the process. So when she goes out of her way to befriend Harriet (Mia Goth), many in her life wonder exactly what the two could possibly have in common. Emma does what she can to groom Harriet into her idea of a proper lady complete with a make over and etiquette lessons, as well as invitations to the most prestigious parties and social gatherings. And the most important of all is that Emma wants to set Harriet up with the dashing Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor) and will do everything she can to make that happen.
But all of Emma’s plans seem to go haywire right from the start. Mr. Elton has no interest in asking Harriet for her hand and why is her childhood friend and ex-brother in law Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) suddenly bringing up feelings she never knew existed?
This was the first version of Emma that I had the pleasure of watching. I never got around to checking out the one from the early nineties. The modernized retelling in Clueless though is one of my all time favorite movies so I knew what to expect going into this one. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how sharp and funny it was. Many a time did I find myself laughing out loud in the cinema and it was a fresh take that I did not expect. This was depicted in the cinematography and the beautiful aesthetics.
The story itself is one of my favorites from Austen. She was always ahead of her time and promoted feminism in all of her pieces of writing. Emma is no exception and this shines through in the film. There is a sense of girl power that is inspiring and it makes you root for the female characters throughout.