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  • Colin Fraser


THREE AND A HALF STARS Emma Wodehouse is match-making, or is that busy-bodying, with unintended results.

Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Nighy


Emma Wodehouse is certainly one of Jane Austen’s more polarising characters. At once a modern, forthright woman who lived, as best one could in the day, on her own terms, she could also be viewed as a frightful busy-body who spent more time meddling in the affairs of those whose affairs didn’t need meddling in. At the tender age of 20, her all-knowing manner is one to aggravate those who find Millennials most aggravating.

But if Emma is your thing, EMMA is your thing. A beautifully polished production that may not add much to the telling (in fact, it’s unwavering dedication to the mores of period drama adds nothing at all to the story), the top shelf performances and dazzling costuming makes for a most satisfying time at the movies.

For the unfamiliar, EMMA is the tale of a rich young girl who takes it upon herself to tender the heart of a ward of her family. However she’s most oblivious to the fact that any and all love interests fall at her feet, not those of the ward; Emma being unreasonably beautiful and, as mentioned, unreasonably rich. Such are the ways of Austen that it all goes horribly wrong (in which Emma learns a lesson in self discipline and proper behaviour) before it goes horribly right (in which everyone gets married).

The treats are found in the production (EMMA is stunning to watch) and the language. A debut screenplay from New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton sparkles with wit, and is delivered with note perfect perfection by a cast who are clearly having a ball. Anya Taylor-Joy (SPLIT) is well cast as Emma, with Bill Nighy effortlessly stealing most of his scenes as her draft-phobic father. Josh O’Connor (GOD’S OWN COUNTRY) shines as the local Vicar who quickly finds himself out of his league.

Although this EMMA doesn’t really add anything to previous versions of EMMA (Romola Garai in 2009, Gwyneth Paltrow in 1996 etc), any time with Emma can be a joy, depending on your taste for forthright women and/or aggravating Millennials. But even if you can’t come to Emma herself, there’s always her father (a riot), and the costumes (resplendent). In any regard, EMMA is a pleasure.

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