Hollywood has shut down and we won’t be getting any new movies for a while. We movie fans stuck at home in Rome are not without entertainment options, and so I turned to video-on-demand for the rather delightful “Emma”.
A fair number of movies that debuted on the big screen before the country was shut down have been rushed to streaming and digital release, so as to make at least some money for the studios. “Emma” is one such film that I missed in theaters but am glad to have caught up with at home. It’s a charming adaptation of a Jane Austen classic and worth the price if you’re looking for a new, simple romantic comedy.
“Emma” stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular Emma Woodhouse, a rich, young woman in early 1800s England who loves to play matchmaker for her friends and family in her quiet little countryside village. But Emma is not as clever as she thinks she is, and her friends and family are not as malleable as she thinks they are, so light-hearted and romantic shenanigans ensue.
I have no personal history with the original Jane Austen novel or any adaptations made previously, so I went into “Emma” blind and had a nice enough time. The new film does not try to reinvent the wheel or bring any particularly madcap elements to its adaptation, but it does strive to have fun with the source material.
“Emma” has both style and substance. Everything is a pastel-colored bit of dandy entertainment, leaning heavily into the accents and mannerisms one expects from an 1800s Jane Austen novel. The British actors are all game to put on a show in their period costumes and manners of speech. It’s quaint.
The story and characters, likewise, are well-performed, with everybody give a solid performance and filling their roles nicely. Taylor-Joy easily carries the film as the main character, someone who is both scheming and good-hearted. And she’s surrounded by a very nice cast. Bill Nighy is especially fun as her hypochondriac father who is always worried that he feels a bit of a draft in his big mansion.
“Emma” doesn’t try to bowl you over with its comedy, instead keeping it subtle and a bit silly. I rather liked that. Same with the romance. It’s all in good fun.
If you’re looking for a new film to enjoy on yet another night in, “Emma” is charming, quaint and just entertaining enough to be worth your time. It did not have a big theatrical release, so now is the chance to take in the show.