Autumn de Wilde’s latest project, Emma, is far more relatable to the general public than it’s 1996 counterpart. The film isn’t perfect by any stretch but relies heavily on the strengths of its cast to overcome its flaws. Perhaps a better adaptation of the source material would have elevated the final product, but alas, what we do have is fine. Little Women should have been a template, for screenwriter Eleanor Catton. Fans are rarely intrigued by endless explanations and exposition. If someone is paying to see Emma, there’s a good chance they have some schema about the story.
Emma is about finding your equal and earning your happy ending. Emma Woodhouse (Taylor-Joy) is a restless queen bee who always seems to be involved in someone else’s business and playing matchmaker. She claims never to be wrong when it comes to matchmaking, but soon that claim gets tested as does her resolve.
The strength of the film indeed lies in the cast. Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, and Bill Nighy are lovely. Each adds an element of vibrancy to the narrative. The production design was exquisite and made use of a lush array of colors making the film visually appealing. The attention to detail in the costume design was outstanding as well. My biggest concern about the film is the amount of exposition Eleanor Catton included in the narrative. While some were necessary, a majority of it was overkill causing the film to drag at certain moments. Luckily for Director Autumn de Wilde, the ensemble was so strong they were able to rise about those moments.
Better writing would have resulted in a better film overall. What we are left was fine, but it sure could have been better, especially with this cast.