This is not the first time I have seen a movie about Jane Austen’s Emma. The last one starred Gwyneth Paltrow who did a reasonable job of being the self-appointed matchmaker. In this new edition, the role of Emma went to Anya Taylor-Joy whom I thought was the better of the two.
In every one of these period pieces, it is always a treat to see who’s been roped into an acting role from a long list of old and new British television and film stars.
I was particularly pleased with Bill Nighy’s rendition of Mr. Woodhouse’s role, the running gag of searching for those invisible draughts, and strategic use of the fireside panels.
Rupert Graves, as Mr. Weston, the recipient of Emma’s matchmaking prowess (or otherwise) was also a welcome addition to what was an almost flawless selection of cast members.
But, other than the familiar plotline that included attempted matchmaking and the exercise of privilege, two things stood out. Johnny Flynn’s rendition of Mr. Knightley didn’t sit well with me as I kept going back to previous actors who filled the role, and who were in my opinion, better, and the other, the treatment of the clergy.
It seems to me that Jane Austen didn’t have much time for them because both in this and in Pride and Prejudice, the role seemed to require a buffoon rather than someone sensible. Perhaps it was best portrayed as such as it added some comic light relief from some of the more stodgy moments.
I give it a three out of five stars.