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Film Of The Week Authentically Austen

MARIA DUARTE sees yet another adaptation of Emma which hits all the right satirical notes

Emma (U)
Directed by Autumn de Wilde

YET another adaptation of Jane Austen’s much-loved classic comes complete with a full stop after it, begging the question why the latter and why did we need another remake, particularly when the brilliantly unforgettable mid-90s modern-day version Clueless and Emma, with Gwyneth Paltrow in the eponymous role, are so indelibly fixed in the mind.

 

But photographer-turned-director Autumn de Wilde’s impressive debut feature brings out the humour in Austen’s work in what’s a screwball romantic comedy of manners and social errors.

 

It points up the rigid class rules and structures of the period and for once shows, in painstaking detail, how the wealthy treated and relied on their servants to do everything for them.

 

Set over the course of four seasons in the 1800s, it stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the well-meaning but spoilt 21-year-old meddling matchmaker Emma Woodhouse, Bill Nighy as her loving yet incredibly paranoid father and Johnny Flynn as Mister Knightley, the much older long-time family friend who chastises and corrects her when she acts badly.

 

Taylor-Joy does a sterling job as the rich and entitled Emma, imbuing her with an unusually caustic and cruel edge, while Nighy steals the film with his quizzical looks and sighs and Flynn delivers a solid enough performance.

 

It is an exquisite-looking adaptation, with its vibrantly bright-pastel colour palette and its luxurious settings are underpinned by a wonderful music score by Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer.

 

Although it isn’t groundbreaking, the film does justice to Austen’s concerns and themes of gender and social class inequality in what is a surprisingly comic and hugely entertaining social satire-cum- rom-com, which needs to be seen on the big screen.

 

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