Human beings are not toys for others to play within games they created out of pride. Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) learns that the hard way in the most recent adaptation of Jane Austin’s beloved classic.
Emma follows the title character, a wealthy and high spirited young woman in Regency-era England who lives with her widowed father (Bill Nighy). She possesses no desire to marry herself but finds purpose in matchmaking. Emma has developed quite a reputation for the art and while she's sometimes seen as scandalous, she's never been wrong about a match. She decides to find someone for her new friend Harriet (Mia Goth), only to finally make a match that's not written in the stars. Thus begins a spiral of unique and often hilarious unpredictability as Emma loses control in her special talent.
Anya Taylor-Joy is a PERFECT Emma. The height of her internal exquisiteness makes her the very best soul to unravel Emma. To watch her is to discover who she is. Emma is precisely how Anya Taylor-Joy describes her. Sometimes, you just want to shake her because of how she behaves. She can be vain, stubborn and childishly naive. She's her father's whole world and most often, the center of attention so it was only a matter of time before she started seeing herself as a queen.
Matchmaking is truly her identity. To be wrong about a match would be like a lawyer giving clients advice to do something illegal. She takes it extremely seriously. The only way to right a wrong match is to find someone else. Someone else in question is of course for Harriet. Harriet is a little bit younger than Emma and depends on her for proper guidance.
Emma truly cares about Harriet but her lack of independence is of no concern to her. Emma takes pleasure in having Harriet see her as some sort of spiritual goddess who immediately knows the right answer to everything. I must admit, I took pleasure in Harriet’s innocence as well. How could I not? Harriet is a mousy yet slightly energetic little soul and needs lots of attention to get by. The relationship Emma has with her reminds me of Jerry and Nibbles from Tom and Jerry. Harriet is Nibbles. Without Emma, she'd just be munching away at all the cheeses, never knowing which one she's meant to eat, so she'll eat them all.
If Emma had taken place in modern times, I might see the relationship between Bill Nighy’s Mr. Woodhouse and Emma as unhealthy, only because they're way too comfortable with each other. He has no desire to remarry, Emma has no desire to marry. Their living situation is an unspoken yet understood transaction. Of course, even the most wealthy human beings have to live in the real world at some point. Nighy is a splendid Mr. Woodhouse because he has that gentle charisma men his age often possess. He certainly looks the part. Emma is a very classic character and the pride he has as her father can be quite emotional if you watch closely enough.
The music and costumes were just right for this ideal period piece. They're colorful and historically cultured but ultimately, it's the characters that bring the story to life. Emma is a timeless coming of age story about finding purpose, the beauty of friendship and coming to terms with the reality that we can't always be right about everything.