Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Movie Review: Emma 2020

I’m a big fan of Jane Austen’s novels and their various adaptations. I loved the 1996 adaptation of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. It had sparkle, panache, simmering flirtation, and real heart. Sadly, the 2020 production of Emma is all style and no substance. The good parts: stunning costumes with beautiful and meticulous attention to detail. The sets and the scenery were also quite wonderful, although much of it came across as moments or vignettes one could only look at and I never felt the characters actually lived in any of the houses/locations. They seemed to ‘pose’ in various screen moments so the audience could look at them. The colour palette, however, was also picturesque and quite lovely.

Of all the characters only Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy - you can't go wrong there) and Miss Bates (the incredible Miranda Hart who managed to steal every moment of any scene she graced) were appealing. Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) came across as pert, self-satisfied, meddlesome, selfish, completely divorced from the reality of life, and only interested in people as playthings. She had a sharp, foxy look as well. Miss Smith was as thick as a plank and boring. Mr Elton was oily but the new Mrs Elton was hideously vivacious and quite watchable. Johnny Flynn played Mr. Knightly like a ruffian and he had absolutely no grace and charm, and no chemistry at all with Emma – unsurprisingly as her character was interpreted as only capable of being in love with herself. The whole Frank Churchill brewing scandal went absolutely nowhere. I think the actors were misdirected. I also think the producers had a shallow approach that did not justice to the other themes. A big disappointment. 3/5


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