A sharp script and charming performances brighten up this classic
Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy: Peaky Blinders) is the queen bee of her little township in England. She’s rich, titled, and widely viewed as the most eligible bachelorette in the area. There’s just one problem: Emma has sworn off marriage.
At the ripe old age of 21, Emma has decided to devote her life to her hypochondriac father (Bill Nighy: Hope Gap) and matchmaking. Ever since Emma made a successful match between her governess and a family friend, she’s fancied herself an expert. Too young to realize how inexperienced and silly she is, Emma begins grooming her next friend for a marriage of her design.
The only person who ever calls out Emma on her childishness is family friend Mr. Knightly (Johnny Flynn: Cordelia). He sees Emma’s potential and pushes her to put aside her juvenile pursuits and embrace her intelligence.
Based on the classic Jane Austen novel, Emma., is a fresh, hilarious take on a well-known story. Director Autumn de Wilde (making her feature film debut) finds fantastic ways to pull the stuffiness out of Austen, leaving only the wit and the fun. This is very similar to the brilliant work Greta Gerwig did making Little Women seem fresh and relevant to a modern audience. This version of Austen contains nudity—and you thought Mr. Darcy jumping in a lake was scandalous—but de Wilde isn’t trying to titillate, she’s trying to show the character’s humanity.
At the center of the film is an absolutely wonderful performance by Taylor-Joy. She has the difficult task of taking a character who is essentially a spoiled brat and making her charming and likeable.
If you’re a fan of Austen, Emma. will be a thrilling romp and a fresh take on beloved material.
Great Comedy * PG * 125 mins.
Retail magnate and billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) is about to turn 60. To celebrate, he is going to throw a party it took over a year to plan. There’s only one catch: a recent scandal has made him persona non grata among the glitterati he so adores.
Coogan is usually a safe bet if you’re looking for a star of a satirical comedy, but this film seems listless. Jokes don’t land, the comedy is broad instead of incisive, and the performances seem a bit over the top.
Prospects: Dim * R * 104 mins.
Two elf brothers are living in a suburban fantasy world that has largely forgotten magic. But there might be something to the old stories of magic. The boys find out that their dead father left them a spell—a spell that will allow them to spend one day with him.
Sadly, the spell goes wrong. Now the boys have to figure out how to correct it before the magic runs out.
As a Pixar film, Onward should be packed with plenty of feelings and some great jokes.
Prospects: Bright * PG * 114 mins.
The Way Back
Former basketball star Jack Cuningham (Ben Affleck) isn’t coping well with catastrophic loss. He spends his days buzzed on beer and his nights blackout drunk. When his former coach asks him to take over his high school basketball team, Jack sees a chance at redemption—if he can find his way back to sobriety and happiness.
A case of art imitating life, this is a movie Affleck admits hits very close to home. Though the subject matter might be personal, the writing and general filmmaking might be hackneyed. Buying a ticket to the movie gives you a chance to see a very personal subject matter for its star. If you’re interested in Affleck’s take on suffering, this should be great; if you’re looking for a character study, this may disappoint.
Prospects: Flickering * R * 108 mins.