Director Autumn de Wilde’s “Emma” is the most visually stunning and comedic, cinematic adaptation of Jane Austen’s satirical novel yet.
Romance, indulgence and drama abound in the story of the young, well-to-do Emma Woodhouse. Audiences will not be disappointed by Emma’s often selfish, sometimes well-intentioned and always hilarious antics as she attempts to navigate the path to love for those around her, despite her claims that she herself does not want to marry.
After helping her former governess find a husband, the much adored and encouraged Emma begins to fancy herself a matchmaker. Even though Mr. Knightley, her brother-in-law and dear friend, teases and chides her for it, she is now determined to spark a romance between her companion Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton, the local vicar. However, many surprises await Emma in her arrogant pursuit. She learns more than she ever realized she would need to about love, herself and the true nature of those around her.
Blushy pinks, sky blues, seafoam greens and many other pleasing pastels light up the not-so-silver screen. From Emma’s gorgeous dandelion dress to the mint walls of her home at Hartfield, every shot is filled with rich color down to the simplest detail.
Paired with breathtaking, outdoor shots and exquisite Regency era costumes — courtesy of the brilliant vision of veteran Austenian costume designer, Alexandra Byrne — this movie is as delicious as the cakes and treats its characters frequently fill up on. Thankfully, the eyes can feast much longer than the stomach can.
While the painting-like quality of “Emma” alone is worth the price of admission, it still has more to offer, especially when it comes to laughs. Each cast member’s performance is remarkable in its own right, but the funniest by far is from Miranda Hart as Miss Bates, a talkative woman who is quite fond of Emma, even though their friendship is usually one-sided. Hart delivers her lines in an eager and rambling manner that sits at the perfect level of awkwardness to make for a hilarious rather than an uncomfortable portrayal of the character.
From its vivid color palette to its breathtaking setting and costume designs, “Emma” lives up to the grand promises of its source material.
Score: 4.5/5 stars