Themes pertaining to preordained marriage, class, privilege, and female agency are at the core of director Autumn de Wilde’s fresh-faced Emma., based on the beloved Jane Austen novel. And the story is as prescient as ever in the hands of the director best known for shooting music videos for Florence and the Machine, Jenny Lewis, and Beck. Her young cast members Mia Goth (Suspiria) and Callum Turner (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) credit their director with teasing out the comedy in the piece to address its bigger themes.
Fans of ’90s movies or comedy cult classics, in general, will recall Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, a truly updated take on the upper-crust matchmaker Emma. But de Wilde manages to modernize her film, even set as a period piece in Austen’s era.
Goth, who plays Emma’s protégé and friend Harriet, and Turner (the dashing Churchill) spoke with The Advocate about working with de Wilde and just why Austen is still relevant.
“That’s somewhat of a given with Jane Austen and all of her novels,” Goth said. “That’s why 200 years later we’re still remaking these stories because they do resonate with us deeply because we are still dealing with these issues even if they are perhaps in more covert and subtle ways, we’re still very much feeling the effects and sometimes the limitations of these boundaries that are put in place.”
“When you have comedy as a tool, it can be very helpful to discuss and look at these issues,” she added.
"Autumn was leaning heavily into that and finding those [comedic] moments,” Turner said about the director, whose work he’d admired and who was the initial big draw for him to take on the film.
Emma. stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma, Johnny Flynn as the upstanding Mr. Knightley, Bill Nighy as Emma’s father, Mr. Woodhouse, and Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country) as Mr. Elton, the vicar obsessed with Emma.