Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Blu-ray Review - Emma (2020)

Focus Features had released a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1815 coming-of-age story Emma (PG; 2 hrs 3 mins) in February, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it received a streaming platform release on March 20th. The film is now available to purchase on Blu-ray (Amazon), DVD (Amazon), and Digital from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by Autumn de Wilde, Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) stars as Emma, the strong-willed (and stubborn) youngest daughter of widowed Henry Woodhouse (played by Bill Nighy). After her former governess married, she searches for a new companion and, eventually, settles on Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), a youthful woman with no parents, though an unnamed gentleman had paid for her schooling. Being the “queen bee” of the area, Emma takes Harriet under her wing and shows her how to be a lady.

Emma plays matchmaker for her companion, which leads to many mismatches and romantic errors.

Bonus Features are:
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • A Playful Tease
  • Crafting a Colorful World
  • The Autumn Gaze
  • Feature Commentary

Final Thoughts

Once upon a time, I read Jane Austen’s Emma, but for the life of me, I cannot remember a single thing about it, besides from Emma Woodhouse trying to find a suitable husband for her friend. Like Austen’s other works, Emma has been adapted many times, with the most-modern adaptation, Clueless, being the only one I had seen before viewing 2020’s Emma, a film that fell on the radar thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m not for sure if it’s the script or the directing, but Emma’s pacing is a bit off and the story is difficult to follow for the first half. The acting from the entire cast is decent; though Anya Taylor-Joy was my favorite. (FYI: I’m a big fan of The Witch!) They spoke the dialogue too fast, and with their British accents, I had to rewind several times to figure out what the characters were saying. There’s no chemistry between Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn, whom they miscast as George Knightley.

The set and costumes designs are beautiful, but all the pastel colors were distracting.

Overall, Emma is intriguing, but soulless adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic tale, mostly because of the misguided directing by Autumn de Wilde. The movie is pretty to look at and has a few entertaining moments, but it will bore the average viewer.

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