Review: Emma (2020)

Emma (2020) Emma (2020)

A charming film can be glimpsed in here, in between cuts that get in the way.

I was too distracted by the editing, which lacks confidence in the beautiful production design (Kave Quinn), costumes (Alexandra Byrne), art direction (Mark Lavis, Andrea Matheson, and Alice Sutton), cinematography (Christopher Blauvelt), and performers (pretty much everyone), to enjoy Emma or even really remember much about it afterward.

Many scenes are full of cuts for cuts’ sake, which offer no new information, are mismatched with the pacing of performances and action, and which deprive the viewer of the time to simply soak in the sumptuous visuals. It’s a real shame: from what can be seen, Autumn de Wilde‘s direction finds an energetic balance between period opulence and screwball comedy, Anya Taylor-Joy‘s performance seems both true to Jane Austen‘s writing and distinctly her own, and the rest of the cast is all-round charming (if perhaps inoffensively miscast here and there – Johnny Flynn‘s Mr Knightley is too young and too hot, and Bill Nighy‘s Mr Woodhouse is… basically Bill Nighy).

Perhaps more of those scenes could be paced like this devastating scene (or even slightly slower):

If they ever release a cut of this that lets each moment, each scene, just breathe, I’m in.

Further Listening

BBC Radio’s Woman’s Hour podcast spoke with Emma director Autumn de Wilde and star Anya Taylor-Joy about their aesthetic and performance choices in nailing the balance between “likeable” and “unlikeable” in crafting the film’s character and world (beginning at 47:40)

BBC Radio | Woman's Hour
BBC Radio | Woman’s Hour | 15 Feb 2020