Good day to you, my most handsome and agreeable of readers. You may find it exceptionally gratifying to know that I, indeed, watched the end credits of this pictorial performance…
What the hell am I on about you may well ask. First of all, rude. And secondly, go read my review of Savage. What have you been doing this whole time? Seriously. I shall give you a moment to peruse it at your leisure………… There. Up with the play now? Understand the reference? Goodness me, I don’t write these reviews for my own enjoyment you know (I do).
Right, now that we’re both on the same page, get one of your footmen to pour you a nice cup of tea, grab a dainty biscuit and get fully ensconced (Note: does not mean ‘full up on scones’. I know, disappointing), for this is a rip-snorter of an adaptation.
It is so great to see a film that doesn’t just stay faithful, mostly, to its source material, but adds colour and vibrancy to it. Just when you thought a Jane Austen adaptation couldn’t be more Jane-Austen-y (It’s an adjective! It is! You saw it here first), 2020’s Emma comes along with obvious care and adoration for the book. And a meticulous faithfulness to the period.
The humour in this is brilliant, quintessentially British, quirky and a joy to watch. Honestly, I sat there in my pants (it’s summer and very humid. Don’t hate. Anyway, it’s you who is stuck with the mental image now. Last laugh to me, I think), pen and notebook in hand, grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole time. Even a look shared between two characters is hilarious. I nearly snorted tea out of my nose on multiple occasions. Don’t worry, my footman was there to mop it up.
The quality of the acting, pacing, and humour is no surprise when you look at the cast list. And, oh boy, what a stellar line up it is.
Anya Taylor-Joy does a truly commendable job of bringing one of Jane Austen’s (by her own admission) less likable characters to life with a sense of relatability and humanity. Emma is still the interfering, snooty know-it-all from the book, but Taylor-Joy gives her a lightness and vulnerability that makes you actually care about her in the end.
Bill Nighy’s loving, yet comically anxious and bothered Mr Woodhouse is fun to watch. Nighy puts on a masterclass of subtle physical comedy. I just wish there had been more of him.
Other cast standouts include singer/actor Johnny Flynn with a great set of pipes as George Knightly, Sex Education’s Tanya Reynolds as Mrs Elton, and Myra McFayden as the amusingly deaf Mrs Bates. The icing on the cake is Miranda Hart as the eternally single Miss Bates. Her onscreen chemistry with Mrs Bates is hilarious. I’m a Miranda fan, so I was excited to see her (Not a fan? Don’t care. Already galloped on. Such fun!) and thought she had some of the funniest moments. This film is like playing Spot the Great British Comedic Actor.
The film does not suffer some of the issues the book has. Gone are the longwinded prose and dialogue listing and arguing characters’ social/hierarchical credentials, but their essence still remains. The gossip is all there and given a sense of fun. One could argue that Mr Elton and Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Collins are almost identical, certainly in profession and intentions, but this is more of a problem with the book than the film.
All in all, a fun, colourful, and vibrant adaptation of Jane Austen’s literary tongue poke at the gentility and people of consequence. Go buy the DVD and watch it, you won’t be disappointed.
Rating: PG Parental guidance is recommended for younger viewers. Nudity and coarse language.
GEEKERY rating: 4.5/5