Rating: You know what? I’m going to give this an B+ because it made me feel really good afterwards.
Summary: The original Clueless.
If you hated my review of Ford V. Furious earlier, you’ll probably hate me now. I’ll acknowledge right away that B+ is too high for this, but when I think back on my viewing of Emma. last week, I can’t help but feel very happy about it. Giddy, almost. Very fulfilled. Like I acknowledged in Fast V. Ferrari– movie viewing, mood, and timing are pretty important. I needed a lowkey break, so I turned to a familiar genre and Emma. hit all the right notes.
I’m a fan of Jane Austen, both in book and film format- Sense and Sensibility is one of my all time favorites and BBC’s Pride and Prejudice from 1995 is just lovely. That’s right, I like that 6-hour version. I’m not a huge fan of the 2005 one with Keira Knightley- it has its moments, but I think it loses a bit of Austen’s tone in favor of dreamy romanticism. It looks very pretty but tone-wise- it doesn’t quite feel like Austen. Me, I’ve been wanting something a little snappier, with a bit more bite.
Emma. brings a lot of the charm back to Austen’s writing in a more illustrative manner. I really appreciated the commitment to the contemporary style (kind of rare to see when taking on classics) and it gave Emma. a really unique tone. Scanning her IMDB and most of director Autumn De Wilde’s experience is in music videos, which probably gives her a good background in trimming the fat and focusing on including the context with more visual and audio cues, instead of solely relying on the acting like other Austen works. Overall, this struck me as a good visual translation of Austen, not just in terms of production value and acting, but in framing and cues, and especially in the editing. And it is a beautiful movie, with a vivid color palette and wonderfully intricate costumes. You know I love me a good period piece.
I don’t mind the decision to uphold style over substance or humor over romance, as Austen’s plots don’t tend to be too complex; also, as the third (or fourth?) take on this book, it can afford to be a bit more experimental. If you know the story, you know the story; and if you know the book, you know how Austen accentuates her writing, which again I think that was visually translated really well here. I think if you’re familiar with Austen’s work- her style, her wit- and if you’ve seen other (more straightforward) takes on her work, there is certainly something to be appreciated here.