"Emma."  on Netflix: Anya Taylor-Joy excels as the heroine of Jane Austen

“Emma.” on Netflix: Anya Taylor-Joy excels as the heroine of Jane Austen

“Emma” by Jane Austen, a novel published in 1815, has (very) many times inspired the cinema (modern version inClueless” or with Gwyneth Paltrow in the title role in 1996), but also TV movies and series. The title of the feature film directed by American photographer Autumn de Wilde, posted on Netflix, however ends with a period. For a definitive adaptation, or a return to the fashionable sources “Emma, ​​and nothing else”? It has just ranked sixth in the top 10 most-watched films on the American platform.

Emma Woodhouse, “beautiful, intelligent and rich”: the first sentence of the novel by the British writer, recalled in a box at the opening, seems to judge her heroine, a bourgeois from the beginning of the 19th century. She is more than that. Anya Taylor Joy plays a haughty Emma with ease, always smiling, even if she successively loses her bearings.

A matchmaker and pretenses

The 26-year-old actress, revelation of the hit series “Le jeu de la Dame”, excels in the role of a young woman who constantly plays a role. Her performance always leaves the viewer perplexed as to Emma’s honesty, like the characters she addresses. We realize, little by little, his selfishness.

Because if Emma does not work, she persuades herself to be able to organize romantic relationships around her. With more or less success, much less from the moment it is concerned. Franck Churchill (Callum Turner) or George Knightley (Johnny Flynn)? How to choose a future husband in the middle of the unsaid of the beginning of the 19th century? All while composing a society where everything is known…

In the heart of the market town of Highbury, stand out well-known British comedians. We thus meet Bill Nighy (“Pirate of the Caribbean”, “Harry Potter”) as a hypochondriac father always in search of an imaginary draft, or Connor Swindells and Tanya Reynolds of “Sex Education”.

The bitterness behind the gilding

“Emma. » offers a dive into the irony of Jane Austen, the one where the gilding of mansions and the finery of lackeys, formal balls and moments of tension mix. So many opportunities to cringe at these moments when these provincial bourgeois who play at being aristocrats find themselves ridiculous. When the codes are shaken up, everyone knows it but says nothing… To be able to talk about it during subsequent interviews, without the knowledge of their peers. Sometimes the confrontation is more frontal. With a certain pleasure for the spectator when, after having heard the annoying neighbor Miss Bates tell the same story several times, Emma throws her a spade such that the poor does not recover.

Colorful and rhythmic, this production aims to be modern in form while remaining faithful to the acidity of the novel. The first realization of Autumn de Wilde – rather specialized in rock music videos – energizes the genre. It’s still not “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, but we deplore no romance scene in the rain.

Editor’s note:

Emma. », British period drama by Autumn de Wilde (2020), starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Mia Goth and Bill Nighy (2:04). Available on Netflix

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