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Film / Emma. (2020)

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"You should not make matches. Whatever you say, always comes to pass."

Harriet Smith: Miss Woodhouse! You will never guess what has happened. Robert Martin has offered me his hand. Do advise me.
Emma Woodhouse: Oh, no, no, no. The words must be your own. You must be the best judge of your own happiness.

Emma (stylized as Emma.) is a 2020 comedy-drama film based on the seminal Jane Austen novel of the same name. It was directed by Autumn de Wilde and stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Callum Turner, Josh O'Connor and Rupert Graves.

Emma Woodhouse, a "handsome, clever, and rich" woman, despite the best of intentions, heedlessly meddles in the romantic affairs of her friends and family as she tries to play matchmaker.

The film was released on February 14th, 2020 in the United Kingdom, and on February 21st, 2020 in the United States.

Previews: Trailer #1 and Trailer #2.

Emma. contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Mr Elton, a clergyman officiating a wedding (of Mr Weston who is one of the most prominent residents in Highbury), tries to sound high-class and pronounces words ultra clearly with great pathos. However, his pronunciation of the word "innocence" with the accent on the second syllable — instead on the first — is decidedly off.
    Mr Elton: Dearly beloved friends, we gather here... in this time... of man's... great inNOcence.
    Mr Woodhouse: [whispers to Emma] InNOcence? Innocence. No?
  • Actor Allusion: Miss Bates, played by Miranda Hart, runs to Emma and excitedly cries "Such news!" In her sitcom Miranda (2009), Miranda's mother's Catchphrase and later everyone's Sharephrase is an excited and hammy "Such fun!"
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: Harriet is described as being petite, blonde and blue-eyed in the book. In the movie she's played by tall, brunette, and brown-eyed Mia Goth.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Emma tells Mr Knightley she cannot accept his proposal because Harriet is in love with him, which she never brings up in the book, instead accepting his proposal then and there. She later visits Robert Martin to tacitly apologize for her meddling in his and Harriet's relationship and tell him that he still has a chance with her, which also does not happen in the book.
    • It's explicitly said that Mrs. Churchill would cut off Frank if he married someone she considered beneath him, whereas it's only implied in the book (she's simply very demanding and snobbish in a way that makes it obvious she would be unhappy with Jane). This makes his behavior around concealing the engagement somewhat more understandable.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In the book Harriet has not the faintest inkling that Emma also has feelings for Mr Knightley when she explains how she fell in love with him. Here, she immediately realises: "You think of Mr Knightley for yourself."
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Isabella Knightley in the book is a very sweet, affectionate woman who is very concerned about her children and their well-being, especially their health. She's somewhat nervous and easily distressed but she's an indulgent mother whose children are happy. In this movie, she's turned into a shrew who constantly fusses at the slightest hint about her children's discomfort, makes a huge deal out of minor things and repeatedly makes her baby cry. In the book she's a sarcasm-blind loving wife who is devoted to her husband. In the movie she never once talks kindly to him and always snaps at him.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The housekeeper of Donwell Abbey is called Hodges in the book. In this movie, she's called Mrs Reynolds, which is the name of the housekeeper of Pemberley in another Austen's book Pride and Prejudice.
  • Adapted Out: The infamous scene where Harriet encounters a group of Romani is cut, only mentioned when Frank brings a distressed Harriet to Emma.
  • Apology Gift:
    • Emma brings a basket with food to Miss Bates after she carelessly insulted her at the Boxhill picnic. In the book, it's only mentioned that she immediately went to visit her the following day.
    • Emma goes to Mr Martin to make amends after she realizes that she was wrong to persuade his love Harriet to refuse his marriage proposal. She brings him a basket with a goose and a picture of Harriet which Emma painted. It's a hint that Harriet still loves him and it also means that Emma herself approves of their match now.
  • Babies Ever After: The Westons have their baby daughter with them at Emma's wedding.
  • Badass Armfold: Mr Knightley, the owner of Donwell Abbey, is a very intelligent and reasonable gentleman who is seen with his arms behind his back several times, for example when he stands by the window and talks to Mrs Weston about Emma at Randalls, when he speaks with Emma at the ball or when he's at his grand house at the gallery and he talks to his guests.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The opening theme, called Emma Woodhouse, features a soprano singing in Italian about how the world is hers, while a male singer calls her oh my perfect one.
  • Book Ends: Opens and closes with weddings.
  • Breakup Bonfire: After Harriet hears that Mr Elton meant to marry Emma and never loved or meant to propose to her, she wants to burn her portrait which Emma painted and Mr Elton admired and purchased a gaudy frame for. Emma wants Harriet to save the portrait but encourages her to burn the frame if she must.
  • Brick Joke: The final scene of the movie is a wedding, officiated by Mr Elton. He repeats the same lines as he did in the wedding at the beginning of the movie, but this time he pronounces "innocence" correctly.
  • Bridal Carry: Frank Churchill brings distressed Harriet Smith to Hartfield in his arms. (In the novel, she leans on him and they both walk.)
  • Character Exaggeration: Isabella Knightley in the book is very concerned about her children and their well-being, especially their health. In this movie it's about the only thing she talks about. In the book it's only slightly annoying to the more reasonable characters, but here she's insufferable, calling for the doctor when her baby spits up a bit of milk, causing both Emma and Mr Knightly to laugh at her over the top reaction.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Emma pleads with Harriet not to burn her portrait which Emma painted for Harriet and Mr Elton whom the artist assumed to be in love. Disappointed Harriet doesn't burn it and Emma keeps it as a picture of her dear friend. Later, she brings the picture to Mr Martin as a gift, to show him that she's sorry for separating him and Harriet and to let him know that Harriet might still love him.
  • Contrapposto Pose: Emma's watercolour portrait of Harriet is a whole-length in the contrapposto pose. Harriet is slightly turned to one side, standing with one arm relaxed while she's lifting her other arm above her head and is holding a feather. Emma takes Harriet's likeness for Mr Elton's benefit so that he can admire Harriet's beauty.
  • Costume Porn: There's no shortage of beautiful costumes and spectacular hats, all designed by Alexandra Byrne.
  • Dance of Romance:
    • Harriet falls for Mr Knightley after she's snubbed by Mr Elton who refused to dance with her. Mr Knightly courteously asked her to dance and she becomes infatuated with him.
    • Mr Knightley dances with Emma. Their looks and touches are very suggestive. After the ball, Mr Knightley decides to confess his love to Emma, but events intervene and he has to postpone it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: John Knightley only talks in sarcasms with a complete poker face. No wonder, since his wife is a complete cow, but he's sarcastic with others as well. For example, when asked how his children are doing, he replies that they are multiplying.
  • Erotic Eating: At the picnic in the Donwell Abbey park, Emma eats a single strawberry rather slowly and catches Mr Knightley's eyes while doing so.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The film introduces its "handsome, clever and rich" heroine with a scene where Emma carefully directs the servants in flower-picking (including getting snippy when one of them reaches for the wrong blossom) before presenting it as a bouquet for her beloved governess, who is about to get married. This introduces her as a proud and tasteful lady who cares for her loved ones.
  • Facepalm:
    • Mr Knightley touches the bridge of his nose as Emma starts flattering Harriet and repeats to her Mr Elton's compliments.
    • John Knightley rubs his eyes after Isabella starts making a fuss about her baby who has just thrown up a bit as Emma was holding her in her arms.
    • What Mr Knightley does after the ball can only be described as moping. He throws around his clothes and lies down on the floor, and then covers his face with his hand.
    • Emma covers her face with both her hands after the Boxhill fiasco. She's in her room, alone, sad and facepalming.
  • Funny Background Event: The servants are a fountain of these, exasperatedly trying to get on with their jobs as the main characters deal with their romantic drama. For example, when a frustrated Mr Knightley tears off his coat and flops down on the floor, you can see a footman in the background come in, realize his boss is having a moment, and immediately turn around and leave.
  • Gossipy Hens: Several women gossip about Jane Fairfax's new pianoforte at the dinner party at the Coles. Emma is intrigued and amused.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mr Knightley isn't too fond of Frank Churchill's seeming preference for Emma. Nor is Emma very pleased when he and Jane Fairfax perform a duet and Mrs Weston speculates that he sent her the pianoforte.
  • Hypocritical Humor: At the ball, Mrs. Elton says she has a horror of being over-trimmed and wearing lots of ornaments, while wearing a dress with about four kinds of trimming and lots of jewelry.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: It's heavily implied that Mr Knightley wants to confess his love to Emma the morning after the ball. He's interrupted by Frank Churchill's sudden arrival to Hartfield, bringing Harriet (who is distressed and a bit injured) with him. Now Emma has to take care of her friend and they don't have a moment of privacy.
  • It Was a Gift: Miss Fairfax receives a pianoforte. It's quite a mystery who sent it, though most people assume it's her benefactor and foster father Colonel Campbell. It's actually from Frank Churchill and they have been secretly engaged for months.
  • Let's Duet: Unlike in the novel where Miss Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill perform music together (and are secretly engaged), in this movie Miss Fairfax plays a duet with Mr Knightley: She plays the piano while he plays the violin and they sing. Mrs Weston suspects love is in the air...
  • Love Hurts: Robert Martin has an intense expression of pain in his face every time he's seen after Harriet rejected his marriage proposal. It's clear that he suffers. When Emma asks Mr Knightly if Mr Martin was very disappointed, he answers that a man cannot be more so.
  • Manly Tears: The Knightley brothers both get teary-eyed at Emma and Mr Knightley's wedding at the end.
  • Meadow Run: After they get engaged, Mr Martin waits for Harriet in the park at Hartfield. Harriet runs to him happily, he smiles a sweet smile and they share a gentle kiss. Then they hold hands and run together. Set to a romantic song. Only slow-mo is missing.
  • Must Make Amends: Emma wants to make things right after she carelessly insulted Miss Bates. She comes to visit her to show her she respects her which she does also in the book. She also personally goes to visit Mr Martin, trying to make amends for her previous meddling which separated him and his love Harriet.
  • My God, What Have I Done??: Emma clearly regrets her insult to Miss Bates the moment she says it and is visibly uncomfortable when she sees how upset the woman is. After Mr Knightley confronts her, she breaks down in tears on the way home.
  • Mythology Gag: Emma's yellow coat, as seen in the page image, was confirmed by the costume designer to be a nod to Cher Horowitz's yellow outfit from Cluelessnote .
  • Named by the Adaptation: Robert Martin has two sisters. In the book, we only know that one is called Elizabeth. This movie mentions both sisters' first names: they're Elizabeth and Catherine.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: The day after insulting Miss Bates at the picnic, Emma goes to call on her to apologize. Miss Bates comes out to tell her that Jane has a dreadful headache, and Emma says she's very sorry, which they both understand to mean her own behavior as well as Jane's health.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger:
    • Harriet wants to burn her portrait and its elaborate picture frame in anger after she hears that Mr Elton never loved her. Emma actually stops her and persuades her to keep the picture itself.
    • Harriet spontaneously throws a book with Mr Elton's sermons from Emma's carriage into the river. Because Emma told her she had had enough of her moping and talking about Mr Elton and Harriet wants to show her grand friend that she understands and that she no longer cares for him.
  • Percussive Therapy: When Mr Knightley comes home to Donwell from Hartfield after the ball at the Crown, he's so unhappy and angry that he starts undressing and throwing around his clothes rather forcefully.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Mr Elton sports a wide, ingratiating one for much of the film, save a few scenes.
  • Pet the Dog: It's subtle, but right after Emma carelessly insults Miss Bates, Mrs Elton of all people gives the latter what appears to be a look of pity, and her line "I really must be allowed to judge when to speak and when to hold my tongue" is implied to be in direct reference to what Emma has just done.
  • The Quiet One: Robert Martin speaks only four audible lines in the whole film: two to Mr. Knightley in one scene, and two to Harriet in another. The rest of the time he communicates entirely with soulful looks.
  • Quizzical Tilt: As Mr Elton reveals the elaborate frame of Harriet's portrait, Harriet and Emma tilt their heads sideways simultaneously, each in the opposite direction.
  • Regal Ringlets: Small corkscrew curls feature in most if not all of Emma's hairstyles (and Harriet's, following Emma's lead), befitting her status as a well-regarded lady.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Production designer Kave Quinn and set decorator Stella Cox confirmed to Architectural Digest that Emma's home is intentionally made to look like a "brightly colored Georgian Dollhouse" since Emma sees the people around her as her playthings. Like life-size dolls in a giant dollhouse.
  • Running Gag:
    • Mr Woodhouse is obsessed with an imagined draft in his house and tries to protect himself with multiple screens of different shapes and sizes. He orders screens to be arranged for other guests as well and he's shown to dislike the chill caused by ladies' fans. One time he's completely surrounded in a box made up of several screens. It works to Mr Knightly and Emma's favor when he orders a large screen to be put up separating them from him, so they get to have a private conversation away from him.
    • Hartfield and Donwell have many silent servants who just serve and observe.
  • Say My Name: The first trailer has a series of people calling Emma by her name in quick succession, ending with a confused 'em'.
  • Scenery Porn: There's no shortage of beautiful vistas, exquisitely decorated rooms and even Ford's Haberdasher (where a couple of key scenes are set) is so perfectly styled that it makes every frame of the film awe-worthy.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: After Emma's ill-thought remark to Miss Bates on Box Hill, awkwardness descends over the party. Despite Mr Weston's attempts to break the mood, the guests quickly excuse themselves and the picnic ends soon after.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Snow Means Death: Mr Woodhouse dislikes snow intensely and immediately gets up and leaves as soon as Mr Elton offhandedly mentions that it's going to snow during the Christmas party (despite the hosts' protestations that they have enough room for everyone to stay the night). He mentions it was snowing when his wife died.
  • Snow Means Love: It's gently snowing and the ground is covered with snow when Mr Elton surprisingly shares a carriage ride with Emma alone and he decides to propose. It's all very romantic for him until he finds out that Emma is having none of it and doesn't mean to marry him at all.
  • Victory Pose: Mr Knightley raises his arms in a victorious gesture after Emma starts leaving the garden, determined to make things right between Harriet and Robert Martin shortly after they (Emma and Mr Knightley) confessed love for each other.

"She always declares that she will never marry. Which of course means just nothing at all."
Mr Knightley



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