There’s always a danger when adapting a Jane Austen novel into film of falling too much in love with the words.
These sagas of love and heartbreak feature strong, intelligent, aristocratic women negotiating manners and misunderstandings with nothing at their disposal but a whole lot of dialogue that has remained whip-smart for the better part of two centuries.
But film is a visual medium so we need something to look at while we absorb all of the verbal thrusts and parries that drive the engines of these stories.
In the latest adaptation of “Emma,” Austen’s matchmaking comedy, director Autumn de Wilde (a seasoned music-video director making her first feature film) has given us a vision in pastels.
Of course, we get all of the corsets and grand estates and stately manors required of a romantic period piece, but this movie’s also got style.
Every frame of film has multiple pops of color as each scene feels a bit like looking at an old painting that has suddenly sprung to life.
There is also a vibrant energy the cast brings to this film, starting with Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma. Taylor-Joy is a striking beauty with wide-set, expressive eyes that allow her to hold the screen with a just a glance even when she’s not firing off a three-page monologue.
Of course, every good Emma needs worthy sparring partners and this film delivers, most notably family friend George Knightley (Johnny Flynn), who often disapproves of Emma meddling in other people’s love lives.
Also great is Billy Nighy as Emma’s father and a dude who is always up for stealing whatever scene he happens to find himself in.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out Mia Goth as Harriet Smith, one of Emma’s projects whose innocence and lack of refinement make for plenty of laughs, but also challenges Emma to think more with her heart and less with her head.
“Emma” is a delightful little movie that will more than satisfy Austen fans while being as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears.
“Emma” is rated PG for breif nudity.