Emma (2020) Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” – Jane Austen 

The first line in the novel is also presented at the beginning of the film adaptation of Emma, which was adapted to screen by Eleanor Catton and directed by Autumn de Wilde. Having this quote placed at the beginning of the film, set the tone for the film de Wilde was about to give her audience. The film felt like the embodiment of the character of Emma Woodhouse, like her entire soul was spread into the corners of the frame and we could feel her presence, even if she wasn’t on screen. De Wilde captured Ms. Woodhouse’s entire being and made sure we understood who she was.

Emma Woodhouse is one of my favourite characters in literature and Anya Taylor Joy owned the role. She was just as clever, beautiful, witty and had a knack in playing matchmaker for those around her. The one thing that de Wilde and Catton really did well was introducing the web of characters that Ms. Austen so expertly crafted when telling Emma’s story. There was such a flow between scenes and the tension between characters was very strong. This is probably one of the most perfect films of 2020, everything worked so well together, from the production design to the costuming and the score was perfectly composed to personify Emma herself.

Now I am not a hopeless romantic and I think that’s why I love Emma Woodhouse so much. She just wants to play matchmaker to make others happy and she always wants the best for those around her. It’s hard navigating your own romantic journey and sometimes you’ll find love when you least expect it but for Emma, it just never happened the way she wanted it to or who she wanted it with. Maybe expectations do put a damper on your romantic journey, or who you think you deserve to be with. At the same time those standards or values you carry should never be seen as an issue in hindering a relationship.

The film also made me reminisce about my own relationships with people and how I’ve played a role in each of their lives. It’s hard to process the role you play in someone’s life because you’re just focused on how you present yourself to them. Emma made me look at all those relationships a bit closer and asses the way I was treated, to eventually come to the conclusion, that I was used majority of the time for personal gain. I’ve been acting as a placeholder my entire life. Just once, I was blessed enough to actually feel like I meant something to someone, I didn’t feel like they were using me to make themselves feel better about who they were. It’s hard to come to these conclusions, and by watching Emma, it felt like an emotional support film of feeling understood and seen.

Emma had the perfect balance of tension between possible suitors and a whirlwind of situations that caused Emma to spin out of control. Emma’s chemistry with Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) was felt from the first time they were on screen together. I’m someone who picks up the subtleties and I definitely appreciate a slow burn. Whenever they were bickering together or near each other, their hidden feelings for each other were felt and I loved how de Wilde chose to unravel their story. Flynn and Taylor Joy complimented each other so well and I think they may be one of my favourite onscreen pairings to date.

Emma is one of the most delightful films of 2020 and if you’re a fan of Victorian Era romance films and love Jane Austen then this will definitely be right up your alley. It’s beautifully shot and adapted so well that Autumn de Wilde will make you fall in love with Austen’s world all over again.

 

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You Review

Dear Reader,

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a wonderful teen romance, that will leave you wanting another sequel. In this story, we have Lara Jean finally going on her first date with her jock boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky. The first half of this film is filled with romantic gestures, cute dates and a blast from the past. Everything was going swimmingly in Lara Jean’s new relationship, until she received a response to her love letter from John Ambrose McClaren.

Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky’s relationship is definitely put to the test when John Ambrose starts working with LJ at the retirement home. A few missteps by the jock Kavinsky and some insecurities from LJ, land her in a questionable position with John Ambrose. Let’s face it, we all enjoy some love triangle drama and this sequel captures the best of it.

The good thing that this series does is modernize the teenage romantic drama. The beginning of this one brought me back to the time, when I watched Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles for the very first time. It’s a film all about LOVE and the many different ways you can love someone. Your soulmate could be your best friend, you could love two people at the same time for different reasons and crushes are more than okay. Love can be anything with anyone, it’s YOU who has to give meaning to the word, with your actions and words.

This film also made me cry. It had nothing to do with the love triangle or Kavinsky’s/Lara Jean’s relationship. Instead the part that got me the most was the friendship between Gen and Lara Jean. There’s a moment in the treehouse that made me shed actual tears and I’m still tearing up as I write this.

“There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.”

– Jenny Han, P.S. I Still Love You.

Friendships are powerful. You don’t realize how powerful they are until you lose someone because things change. This scene exchanged was such a pure moment between the two of them and it showed how deep connections can run, without either of you realizing it. Even if too much time has passed between friends and things go unsaid, the love and joy of friendship that was once very evident will linger and the wave hits all over again. You never really lose people because they shaped you into the person you are today. I’m just happy that they incorporated that scene, to show how friendships can change but still maintain a level of civility.

This is a very good sequel and Lana Condor was stunning as Lara Jean. They managed to capture her adorable essence and beauty in such a natural way. She owns this film and I could watch her in anything. Also, whether you are #TeamKavinsky or #TeamJohnAmbrose (If you’re not #TeamJohnAmbrose then you should do better) you’ll get the best of Noah Centineo and Jordan Fisher.

So this Valentine’s Day, cozy up with your other half, or your girl squad, or your bros, or your singles crew and argue over who Lara Jean deserves more.

Yours,

Amanda Guarragi xo