I have always been a big fan of Jane Austen, and Emma is my favorite book, so I was immediately interested when I heard there was going to be a new adaptation. Naturally, I watched the trailer, and to be quite honest, was quite taken aback by it. It was pitched as a comedy, and the characters seemed different than in the book (don’t worry this review has a happy ending). I knew I would still watch it, but wasn’t feeling too good about it at the time. Once it came out, I knew a lot of other Jane Austen fans who were not fans of the movie.
I started to take on all those preconceptions of the movie, and realized that I had made a decision about it before even seeing it. About a week ago, looking for something to watch (hi, pandemic, I’m looking at you), I decided to rent Emma. Here is what happened;
Once I started watching, I was immediately struck by how accurate the dialogue was to the book, and as a book nerd this is very important to me. Hmm. Then I began to listen to the music, and fell in love with how catchy and atmospheric it was (Johnny Flynn who plays Mr. Knightley is a great singer and musician and is included on the soundtrack). Hmm. The costumes and the set design were gorgeous and I couldn’t look away. Hmm…am I actually starting to enjoy this? (Spoiler: yes I was).
The acting was interesting and different than any other adaptation of Emma that I’ve ever seen, and it was quite refreshing. The writing also began to take a different turn as the movie went on, and I wasn’t upset about that either. Eventually I just got swept up in the story and forgot about all the negative things that I’d heard, and all the things that I had decided it was going to be like. In the end, it was the exact opposite!
The movie was nothing like I expected it to be, and by the end, I was singing its praises. Since watching it (twice), I think I can quite safely say that it is my favorite adaptation of Emma. It does new things with a beloved story, and yet keeps the essence of the characters and Jane Austen’s writing. I love it.
By Mari Pavelich