Oh, the costumes; glorious works of art! Oh, the setting; massive English manor homes re-imagined as colorful backdrops to show off the period costumes and furnishings, and sumptuous tea party confections! Yes, Emma is a delightful getaway; an escape from the stress of modern times. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, your entry to this frothy fantasy based on Austen’s classic is a ticket away at your local multiplex. It was my first outing that seemed to be affected by the Coronavirus scare.
My first clue that there was something amiss — an almost empty parking lot at a Boulder, Colorado mall. Then I entered an almost empty theater–quite unusual for a Friday night screening of a film that was just released this week. There was no evidence of increased precautions being taken by movie theater staff. No extra cleaning happening or gloves worn. None of my fellow theater-goers seemed to be using sleeves to cover their hands when touching doors and no one else was doing the patient 20-min hand-wash routine before or after the film.
Anya Taylor-Joy makes a sweet Emma. A young woman with an innocence and deluded sense of self-importance, I wish her performance had a touch more of the wicked wit of her character in the darkly comic Thoroughbreds. Choked by high collars and piles of frills, the best scenes are when the characters are peeling off their social armor both literally and metaphorically. There is a nice chemistry between the characters. Every second on screen Bill Nighy elevates the film. And Myra McFadyen as Mrs. Bates is a delight.
A judicial trimming of the intertitles and lengthy shots of strolls across the lawns would have helped the leisurely pace of Emma. It was a joy to slip away to the English countryside and admire the gorgeous finery and lilting dialogue of those to-the-manor-born. It made me want to re-watch Clueless and reread Emma. Do you need a little Love in the time of
Cholera Coronavirus? (forgive me, Gabriel García Márquez!) This might be the antidote!
Drinks with Films rating: 2 cups of English Breakfast tea, served with plenty of clotted cream and scones (out of 5)