A match made in heaven but not too heaven scented.  A little acid gives this classic apple of a story more juice.

Direction:Autumn de Wilde
Screenplay:Eleanor Catton
Cast:Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner,
Miranda Hart, Bill Nighy
Length:124 minutes
Rating:PG

Emma Woodhouse (Taylor-Joy) is the heroine meddling in the private lives of her friends to varying degrees of success, told in each season over the course of one year. With such a simple premise, one would be forgiven for thinking that not an awful lot goes on in this film. Make no mistake, however, as Emma. – both film and character – is anything but slow motion.

While this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel maintains the grace and poise from 1996 Emma, with Gwyneth Paltrow as the eponymous character, it is rather less placid and meandering in comparison. Almost a quarter century later, 2020 Emma. is an impeccably stylised and mischievously funny period piece for the present. This time, the river is arrow straight in its execution.

Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is handsome, clever, and rich. | © 2020 Focus Features. A Comcast Company.

Very nearly Wes Anderson-esque in its symmetrical compositions and visual detailing, the film is action packed with hilarious characters and awkward situations. From the inventiveness of the a cappella choir, just one inspired feature of the energetic score, to the perfectly cast ensemble (Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart are wonderful as usual), there are no false moves to criticise. How boring.

Director Autumn de Wilde has injected Emma. with the same passion and liveliness as Joe Wright achieved brilliantly with Pride & Prejudice 15 years ago. Elevated by location shooting on the luscious countryside wild and in the lavish houses tamed, Emma. is exquisitely crafted mirroring the upstairs world it represents but sidesteps being outdated. In fact, its modernity is what stands out.

Mr. Henry Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) in one of the many oppulent houses featured in the film | © 2020 Focus Features. A Comcast Company.

Such is the panic induced by the mere mention of snow, society, specifically its upper echelons as depicted here, appears to have hardly changed at all. While this example may portray a trivial pursuit among the upper class, an existence where everything is more or less alright in the grand scheme of society at large, Emma. avoids a potential lack of conflict by delving into the misjudgements made by members of the upper class and its ripple effect. Or rather, the misjudgements made by one member in particular.

Enter Anya Taylor-Joy. Armed with epic eyerolls, her 2020 Emma Woodhouse has both greater agency and manipulative sensibilities as opposed to her 1996 incarnation. With wider extremes in character, her successes wield more power but mistakes carry more consequences. Her less likeability makes her less one-note and her sparring with the poorer George Knightley (Flynn) makes for great cinema.

To the very end of the end credits, Emma. is upper class filmmaking.

Emma is in cinemas now.