What a bizarre movie Emma is. Actually, no, Emma is a beautifully crafted movie with some exceptional performances and almost no room for improvement. But what a bizarre story it is based on. Almost nothing happens. Almost no one learns anything. And there's almost a romance happening, except it's equal parts too telegraphed to be interesting and too under-developed to be plausible (though, admittedly, these two factors work in unison to at least make the outcome feel consistent).
Which all sounds like I thought Emma was a bad movie, despite the fact that I don't. I enjoyed it quite a bit, actually. Most of that is due to the aforementioned exceptional performances and beautiful craft at work throughout the film, but it's also pretty well-paced. Very well-paced, in fact. For a plot in which barely anything of note happens, it carries you along with incredible ease. Honestly, the pacing may well be the greatest triumph of the source material, though having never read it this may also just be further evidence of exceptional craft by the creative team behind the adaptation. Who knows?
I think Brits will get just a touch more out of the film as well, thanks to the consistent cameos. From Miranda to Bill Nighy to Gemma Whelan (Upstart Crow) to Rupert Graves (Sherlock), almost every side character is a notable member of the British TV circuit, and each adds just a little extra flair to proceedings. That said, I particularly enjoyed Miranda Hart's turn as the wittering Miss Bates, in no small part because of how well she plays the pivotal scene in which the titular Emma greatly insults her, momentarily showing herself to be an absolutely awful, sociopathic human being. It's a brilliant moment which has almost no payoff, except to serve as an excuse for Emma to do just enough nice things that you don't feel her eventual happy ending is completely remiss, and to humanise Miss Bates completely.
I don't get why or how Emma seems to work (🤷♀️) but I did enjoy it. Still, I don't think I ever need to see another version ever again.