Sunday, March 08, 2020
"Emma." (2020) -- Initial Thoughts
Extra fancy, extra pretty, extra funny, extra sumptuous, extra nekkid, extra dramatic, extra splendiferous, extra elegant.
Truly, this was such a frothy spectacle that my head is still spinning a little bit! I need to watch it again before I can decide if I actually liked it or not. I know I liked parts of it, but the whole movie? I'm not sure. A second viewing is required. However, I'm guessing I'm not going to be seeing this again until it's on DVD because my upcoming weekends are really busy.
Anyway. Yes, let's mention the unclad elephant in the room and get that over. Yes, Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) is entirely unclothed at the beginning of the film. Briefly. From the side and rear. It's true. You can pretty easily see when it's coming, as he's throwing off his clothes willy-nilly in order to get dressed again in a hurry. If you want to avert your eyes, it's not hard to figure out when to do it.
I thiiiiink the point was to remind us that we can get soooooooooooooo stuck on our ideas of how "proper" people were in the 1800s, but that our ideas ain't necessarily accurate. Rich people like Mr. Knightley and Emma Woodhouse would have had servants dressing them. Undressing them. Re-dressing them. It's a recurring theme here. Servants, servants everywhere, dressing and undressing them, seeing them in good moments and bad, tending to their whims and wants. Putting up with Mr. Woodhouse's foibles. Would a gentleman like Mr. Knightley or a gentleman's daughter like Emma have casually undressed and redressed with their servants there in the room, attending them? Naturally! And yet, some modern moviegoers have had little fits over the 2005 Pride and Prejudice showing Mr. and Mrs. Darcy together at their own home, with no one else around, sharing a tender moment while not 100% fully clothed and shod! Of COURSE people in Jane Austen's day walked around barefoot at times! Certainly, their servants would see them without every inch of their bodies covered. So. Anyway. I think that was their point with this. Did I appreciate seeing Mr. Knightley's bare bum? Not really. The male body is not particularly nice to look at, IMHO. But did I find it totally outrageous that he might not be wearing clothing every moment of the day? Nope.
So. Anyway. Moving right along...
I really liked Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse. Honestly, he was like 90% of why I wanted to see this movie at all, because the trailers did not excite me. But Nighy is always a good time, and I am happy to report I was not disappointed :-) He was charmingly neurotic and fussy, not too sprightly, but not too gloppy either. I'd love to see him in more period pieces.
I didn't realize that Rupert Graves was in this! He popped up as Mr. Weston and I gave a happy little gasp. I like him so much on Sherlock, and it was just delightful to see him in this. He got lots of screen time too, which I appreciated. It's not shocking that I didn't know he's in this, considering there are ZERO pictures of him from this anywhere at all on the internet. Badly done, internet.
Everyone else was all right. I didn't love or hate any of them this first time through. I thought they did a good job of conveying the central issue of the book, that Emma needs to come to understand herself and see herself clearly. It's much the same point as most of Austen's novels, actually -- that giving up illusions about ourselves and those around us is the only path to figuring out who we are suited to spending our lives with.
I'm interested in seeing this again, so I definitely enjoyed it, even if I'm not sure if I liked it. I think I did. It's very visually frothy and colorful and fancy. So fancy. Like a shot-for-Instagram-or-Pinterest movie, all Interesting Perspectives and Coordinated Color Schemes and Purposeful Scenery. Artificial in the extreme, but intentionally so. Which, I think, serves to highlight Emma's own superficiality and growing realization that there is more to life (and to herself) than pretty clothes and pretty people and pretty flowers.
Anyway, there you go. My thoughts on this new version. Have you seen it? Or are you planning to?