I Watched the New Emma Movie 5 times: Here Are My Thoughts

So, quarantine life has been kinda crazy in general and depressing for me personally, but over the weekend I finally got to do something fun: watch the new Emma film with my mom. 


Those who know me know that I really like Jane Austen and her books, and those who know me well know that I LOVE Jane Austen and her books, and those who know me best know that my mother is the same way. When we found out last year that a brand new film of a Jane Austen novel was being released on Valentine’s Day of 2020, we put it on the calendar. We couldn’t go during the first few weeks of showings because, well, lots of reasons, and then the coronavirus hit our area so we washed our hands and stayed home. I had resigned myself to waiting a month or two to watch it on digital when I saw the announcement: Emma was among the movies selected for home release. It was released Friday, we rented it on Saturday night, and for the next two days proceeded to watch it about 5 times (plus all the bits we rewound and rewatched and analyzed in between full sit-downs). My mom’s favorite Emma remains the Kate Beckinsale version, but I think this is my new favorite version. 



If you have not a) read Jane Austen’s Emma, b) seen any version of Emma, c) seen the new 2020 version of Emma, or d) any and/or all of the above, do NOT go any further until you have. I will try not to give away major plot points, but I’m not making any promises. 


Here is why this is my new favorite version of Emma


The characters were perfectly cast, and the actors worked so well together. 


Anya Taylor-Joy portrays the title character perfectly: a rather spoiled, handsome, rich young woman with good intentions, too much time on her hands, and a superiority complex--a truly flawed character. She wants the world to go the way she wants it to and thinks she knows best, despite her dear friend’s attempts to guide her the right way. Enter Mr. Knightley. 


Johnny Flynn plays Knightley with flawless grace and raw emotion (something I don’t often see from him in other portrayals, at least not as strongly). He is angry without being nasty, and he is also kind, sensitive, and wise. Last but not least, Flynn’s Knightley is both ruggedly handsome and charmingly refined; in my opinion, he is the best Knightley I have seen on screen. 


Oh, and he can sing. 


Emma and Mr. Knightley’s friend/relationship is very close, despite their age gap, and the nuances of their relationship are extremely well-played by the actors. (Confession: Emma is not my favorite Austen novel, but Mr. Knightley has long been my favorite Austen love interest.) 


As for the other characters, I will try to be brief: Harriet (portrayed by Mia Goth) is delightfully quirky and innocent, Bill Nighy is my favorite Mr. Woodhouse ever (bouncing comedy instead of dragging dreariness), Miranda Hart is a perfect Miss Bates, and Josh O’Connor is both hilarious and a bit creepy as Mr. Elton. 


Next, the music was absolutely fantastic. The soundtrack is by Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Shweitzer and I highly recommend it. I’ve watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack so many times that I can pinpoint what is happening during certain points of each song. It is quite varied, containing opera, hymns, country songs of the times, and dance numbers. It added so much drama and effect and atmosphere to the film. 


The writing and directing for this film is exceptional. I don’t just mean Austen’s novel, that’s a given; I mean that whoever came up with the idea to put a nosebleed in that particular scene was a freaking genius. Also, the eye contact should have an Oscar for itself (though credit for that also goes to the actors), and the choreography of every scene is so fluid and timed so perfectly that I could probably write an essay on it. Autumn de Wilde, I commend you and hope you tackle more Austen projects in the future. 


I could go on, I really could, but it’s time for me to plan my annual Jane Austen marathon. Go watch Emma