Inspired by real events in the life of French New Wave icon Jean Seberg. In the late 1960s, Hoover's FBI targeted her because of her political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.
Jane Austen's beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending, is reimagined in this. Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.Written by
I loved the look of "Emma" from the trailer. And I was not disappointed. It is a simply sublime piece of comic entertainment.
Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a rich, privileged 21 year-old looking after her elderly and quirky father (Bill Nighy) in the family stately home. She has never loved, despite the persistent presence of 'family friend' George Knightley (Johnny Flynn), but finds it entertaining to engage in matchmaking, particularly in respect to her somewhat lower class friend Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). Emma has high ambitions for Harriet... ideas significantly above what her social station and looks might suggest.
Emma has her sights on a dream.... the mystery man Frank Churchill (Callum Turner), son of wealthy local landowner Mr Weston (Rupert Graves). She has never actually met him, but is obsessed with his myth. #fangirl. As a source of immense annoyance to her, but often a source of valuable information on news of Churchill, is the village 'old maid' Miss Bates (Miranda Hart). "Such fun"!
But Emma's perfect life is about to face sticky times, as her machinations fail to yield the expected results and a stray comment, at a disastrous picnic, threatens to damage both her reputation and her social standing.
If you like your movies full of action and suspense, you are digging in the wrong place. "Emma" is slow... glacially slow... wallowing in beautiful bucolic scenes (with superb cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt); gorgeous costumes by Alexandra Byrne; and hair styling by Marese Langan.
The movie also benefits from a joyfully tight and funny script by debut screenwriter Eleanor Catton (a Man-Booker prize winner). This picks relentlessly at the strata of the class system set up by Jane Austen's novel: "Every body has their level" spits spurned suitor Mr Elton (Josh O'Connor).
I know Anya Taylor-Joy as the spirited Casey from "Split" and "Glass": she was impressive in "Split"; less so for me in the disappointing "Glass". But here, I found her UTTERLY mesmerising. She has such striking features - those eyes! - that she fully inhabits the role of the beautiful heiress who haunts multiple men sequentially. I even muttered the word "Oscar nomination" at the end of the film: though we are too early in the year to seriously go there.
An even bigger surprise was the actor playing George Knightley. Johnny Flynn has been in a number of TV shows I haven't seen, and a few films I haven't seen either (e.g. "Beast"). But I had the nagging feeling I knew him really well. The illustrious Mrs Movie Man clocked him: he's the Cineworld "plaid man"! (For those outside the UK or not patrons of Cineworld cinemas, he was the 'star' of a Cineworld advert that played over and Over AND OVER again for months on end before every film I saw. Arrrgggghhhh!).
Here, Flynn is excellent as the frustrated and brooding Austen-hunk. He even gets away with an ar*e-shot within a U-certificate!
Particularly strong in the supporting cast are Bill Nighy (being delightfully more restrained in his performance); Miranda Hart (being "Miranda", but perfectly cast) and Mia Goth (memorable for that eel-bath in "A Cure for Wellness").
And a big thank-you for a web review in the online Radio Times for naming one of the comical (and bizarrely uncredited) footmen as Angus Imrie - - the truly disturbed stepson of Claire in "Fleabag". It was driving me crazy where I knew him from!
The one criticism I would have is that I found the (perfectly fine and well-fitting) music, by David Schweitzer and Isobel Waller-Bridge (sister of Phoebe) poorly mixed within the soundtrack. There were times when I found it overly intrusive, suddenly ducking under dialogue and then BLASTING out again. Sometimes music should be at the forefront.... but more often it should be barely perceptible.
As you might guess....
...I loved this one. The story is brilliant (obsv!); the film is simply gorgeous to look at; the locations (including the village of Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds and Wilton House - near me - in Salisbury) are magnificent and a blessing for the English Tourist Board.
All the more impressive then that this is the directorial feature of video/short director Autumn de Wilde.
This comes with a "highly recommended" from both myself and the illustrious Mrs Movie-Man.
(For the full graphical review, please check out One Mann's Movies on Facebook or the web.)
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