Quick Take: Emma
Every time a new adaptation of a well loved (but oft filmed) literary classic makes its way to cinemas, the question is often asked "is a new version really needed?" But every few decades it seems to happen like clockwork. Following fresh off the heels of Greta Gerwig's take on Little Women, newcomer Autumn de Wilde saw fit to give us another version of Emma.
Emma's most famous adaptation comes in the form of 1995's Clueless and is almost universally loved by all. Fresh off of Clueless's success a more traditional adaptation was made a year later in 1996 with Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Toni Collette and Jeremy Northam. As a huge Jane Austen fan I really loved both, but wondered if there was room in my heart for another version. When you get attached to one movie's way of telling a story you love, it's hard not to compare any other movie afterward that tries to do the same. As such, I couldn't help but compare this Emma to all the others, though I tried as hard as I could to be objective.
Anya Taylor-Joy plays Emma, our high society regency heroine who has a hobby of matchmaking. After successfully wedding one friend, she is determined to find love for another, a young woman named Harriet Smith (Mia Goth.) Things get complicated when Emma finds herself entangled in all of the setups. I love Anya Taylor-Joy but she played Emma with all of the cattiness and none of the genuinely good heart the character possesses. She just comes off as a very cold, aloof Emma and not really how I picture the character. Ultimately the whole film kind of comes off as a Cliff's Notes version, as each plot point is lightly covered but you don't really get the full impact of any of it. But the biggest blunder comes during one of the film's climactic scenes, which I shall not spoil here, but suffice it to say it should be a great moment when two characters get together...not how they do it here. But hey, visually the film is beautiful to look at. The colors are bright and the landscapes are lovely. However, when I'll be needing my Emma fix in the future I'll be sticking to Clueless and Emma '96.