So something happened in the last few years, or I’ve grown up and began to appreciate period dramas much more than I used to. I’m willing to bet it is the modernization of the genre, along with some stellar acting and the high definition goodness that really makes the lavish sets pop out. But whatever it has been, movies like The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scotts, Little Women, and now Emma have really stuck with me.
Starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular character, Emma is based on a Jane Austen novel of the same name. Being young, rich, and beautiful puts our main lady right in the perfect spot to thrive in the high society of the time, where she fancies herself a matchmaker. However, when successfully marrying off one of her best friends, she must look elsewhere for companionship. This is where she meets Harriet Smith, another beauty who is of unknown birth, but is available and saught after by more than one of the charming bachelors of the town.
Without being able to resist herself, Emma ends up pulling strings left and right, leading to a rather comical predicament where she might lose her new best friend while shooting herself in the foot.
And comical is definitely the right term here. I’ve not read this novel, but you can absolutely tell that the director has chosen to focus a but more on the ironic comedy that this story wields. Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal is so so so good here as well, with some of the most spot on facial expressions that I can recall in recent memory. I don’t know what kind of training one goes through to get that upscale holier-than-thou look while also pulling off incredibly bored but painfully curious all in the same look. It was something to behold.
Further adding to the comedy in this one is a completely off the walls casting of Emma’s eccentric father, played by Bill Nighy. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a hard time keeping a straight face regardless of his role, but here he is just constantly doing the most out of left field things that had me cracking up at very random times. It’s important to note that Nighy, too, is a master of the facial expressions. I promise you, you’ll be glued to the screen just to see these people making faces. It’s wonderful.
All in all, Emma was very, very entertaining and certainly fits in with the trend of modern feeling period dramas that are not afraid the experiment with crossing genre lines. I went in cautiously optimistic based on recent trends, and I was fully satisfied.
One of the best things about period pieces, in my opinion, is that you get a chance to look at some truly unique and fantastic things on screen. It’s one thing looking at paintings and pictures, or evening visiting a museum and seeing relics of the past, but it is a different thing altogether when a filmmaker and a good crew get the chance to make the period feel alive. Emma is part of a new wave of films that breathe a truly new feeling sheen over what was already visually stunning – the lavish world of high society.
This blu-ray features some of the most gorgeous scenery that I’ve seen this year, as well as some very fine detail and gorgeous costume designs. These translate extraordinarily well to HD here, with crystal clear and vibrant image quality throughout the entire runtime.
Similarly, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 channel surround track does a perfect job here. The movie itself is heavily dialogue driven, but the track still manages to sound incredibly lively despite the lack of action here.
Emma comes in a standard blue amaray case with a nice slipcover. As for special features, the following are included on the disc:
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag real
- A Playful Tease – a short featurette on casting choices
- The Autumn Gaze – featuring the film’s rookie director Autumn de Wilde
- Crafting a Colorful World – a look at the production design of the film
- Audio Commentary – with director Autumn de Wilde, Screenwriter Eleanor Catton, and Director of Photography Christopher Blauvelt
Our Recommendation for Emma:
Emma continues a hot streak of period dramas that are bringing a a new life to classic stories. It features a comical and very interesting take on Jane Austen’s book while standing out as it’s own piece of work. Anya Taylor-Joy absolutely shines in her role here, and Bill Nighy is as wacky as ever. I just love him. Definitely give this one a watch.