Jane Austin’s last novel Emma, written in 1815, has been adapted for the screen many times, most recently by the BBC in a 2009 mini-series.
Writer Eleanor Catton (Booker Prize winner for The Luminaries) has given us another version of this social satire which is largely faithful to the original story, acted by a cast who balance its romance, wit and silliness (by contemporary standards).
Emma Woodhouse (rising star Anya Taylor-Joy) is 21, smart, rich and good looking.
She thinks that there is nothing more important in life than being concerned about the importance of status in society and she makes decisive judgements about others. Emma fancies herself as a romantic matchmaker, while ignoring the possibility that she may fall in love and want to marry herself.
She lives with her hypochondriac father, Mr Woodhouse (Bill Nighy, perfect in the role with his rolling eyes and sideways glances), who needs to have her live with him in their grand country house with their long-suffering servants.
She befriends naive Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), a low born student at a nearby school and takes over her life.
Emma discourages Ms Smith her love of a farmer in favour of firstly the local vicar Mr Elton (Josh O’Connor, stiff necked and emotive in his very starched vicar’s collar), then wealthy Frank Churchill (Callum Turner), and finally confuses the issue with Mr Knightley (a tousled-haired Johnny Flynn), while ridiculing and upsetting a pathetic and rather ridiculous Mrs Bates (Miranda Hart, doing what she does so well).
Of course, everything works out in the end and everyone finishes up with the right person in this family friendly and lavish production.
First- time director Autumn de Wilde makes the most of her excellent cast. Christopher Blauvelt’s cinematography, encompassing luscious interiors and the great outdoors, is beautiful. The costumes by Alexander Byrne are detailed and gorgeous.
What’s not to like?
Starts on Thursday 13 February at Windsor, Nedlands and Luna SX, Fremantle.
Watch the trailer…