Hello, my lovelies! So yeah, I have finally watched the newest version of Emma. I actually first watched it several weeks ago and after a rewatch or three I decided I should really get my thoughts down in print. :)
So here's the deal. I was excited for a new Jane Austen adaptation, I really was! But I was a whole lot uncertain. As I've been pondering that uncertainty since, I've decided there were several things that played into it:
- I read the book for the very first time only a couple years ago and while I enjoyed it, I didn't love it like I expected to. So I think my disappointment was affecting me even this long while later. (Incidentally, now that I've watched the film, I really want to reread the book!)
- I tried watching both the Gwyneth Paltrow version and the Kate Beckinsale version years upon years ago and rather disliked them both. It wasn't until I saw the Romola Garai version that I fell in love with the story. And I haven't even watched that one for a couple years. So perhaps I was fearful of more disappointment...? Or maybe even that I might like this one better...? I don't know. (Side note: SO many of my reader friends LOVE the Paltrow version! I'm thinking I should really give it another chance as I can't even remember what it was that I didn't like about it...)
- I LOVE Jonny Lee Miller's Mr. Knightley. So much so, I think I just didn't want to even imagine someone else in the role...
- SO much talk about the bloody nose scene. And I will have more to say on that later, but all I heard about this scene before watching it simply put me off.
- And lastly, I read and listened to a lot of reviews once the film officially came out. There was a mixed bag of thoughts. Some loved it, some hated it, some couldn't stand the bloody nose scene but liked everything else, some liked this or that part better or this over here was awful. Suffice it to say, I think I overdid it on reviews and just should've watched it for myself.
One weekend I decided it was now or never and bit the bullet. And what do you know but that I really loved it! All my silly worries and here I ended up really enjoying myself. :D I'm not sure it overtakes the Garai version as my very favorite, but it certainly stands tall right next to it!
What I loved:
- The humor. This version is hilarious! I was not expecting to laugh quite so much. The Garai version is funny, but I think the length of it means that we get a mix of light and serious moments (as is appropriate!). This one has its serious moments to be sure, but there is simply a general feel of lightheartedness about it that I felt right from the beginning all the way through to the end.
- Since I liked the humor, I ended up LOVING the bloody nose scene! Go figure, right? :D (I know, I laugh at myself. ;) Once I was into the flow of the story, by the time we get to that scene I figured out just what it was going for. As a reviewer I listened to stated it, in every other version that scene is played for romance. The great romantic moment, the climax so to speak. But in this one, the great romantic moment comes later, so this scene just flows hilariously onward and after numerous rewatches of it (yes, I rewound just that scene multiple times, I confess it) I still laugh at Emma's messy and real portrayal. As another reviewer stated, it showcases just how much of a mess she is and yet why we love her by this point of the story. And certainly why Knightley loves her because if he can deal with Emma and her dramatics, bloody nose and all, then he's truly in love! :D
- The Emma and Harriet friendship. I confess to having struggles with all the different versions of actually liking Harriet all that much. But Mia Goth did an excellent job of walking the fine line between naive (rather than idiotic) and just simply being a good friend to Emma. One of the reviews I read said the focus of this one is really the love story between Emma and Harriet and I have to agree. It was beautifully played out between those two actresses.
- Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley. I already admitted that I LOVED Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal, so I really wasn't expecting to love this new guy. But it worked. I'm pretty sure I love them both equally now. The way they each play their interactions with Emma herself and watching as they figure out they're in love with her...they each work perfectly in their particular versions. So I am happy to rewatch either and both again and again and again. :D
- All the actors and actresses actually. I thought they all did a fantastic job with each of their characters. Not going too over the top, but yet keeping with the lighthearted and real feel of the story.
- Okay, I also admit Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse was fabulous! He was a lot more nimble than I usually picture Mr. Woodhouse but it worked. There are two scenes where I absolutely loved him the most:
- when Emma is crying right after the Box Hill scene and the tenderness and fatherly-ness of his clear desire to comfort her yet he awkwardly doesn't quite know how so he ends up simply sitting with her in her sorrow. SUCH a beautiful moment!
- the big romantic scene at the end when he remarks about the "draft" and then totally sets up the moment for Emma and Knightley. :D His sly looks at the beginning of the scene just crack me up! He knows precisely what's going on, even if he pretends he doesn't.
- The colors and the costumes! SO much color and glorious costumes! There are several of Emma's outfits that are just gorgeous.
What I could've done without:
- The particular scene with Mr Knightley at the very beginning. Luckily, it is easily skip-over-able.
- The awful relationship between Emma's sister and her husband. It did make for some funny moments, but I definitely prefer the way the Garai version portrayed them!
- This isn't really a thing I wished for less of, I actually wish there were even more scenes with Ms Taylor/Mrs. Weston. The first scene between her and Emma is so sweet and then she's barely in the film from there on out. I get that there were likely time constraints and all sorts of things that played into that decision, but still. I wish she'd showed up a bit more. And Mr. Weston too!
So there you have it. I laugh at all my worries about what I imagined this version would be like. Because clearly I rather enjoyed myself overall based on the lengthiness of my thoughts! :D Now. I am off to do another rewatch. (My birthday was this past week, so I can still celebrate with Jane Awesomeness, right?? I agree completely! ;)