Despite a recent theatrical release on February 21, 2020, Emma. came early to streaming services as a $20 rental on March 20, 2020, when American movie theaters shut down to keep viewers healthy.
In the latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma., director Autumn de Wilde combines beautiful pastel visuals, detailed costume design, and a humorous story.
Although it is a period piece that could appeal to an older audience, some elements could appeal to younger viewers.
Featured today on Theresa’s Reviews, I’m sharing 3 lessons that tweens can learn from Emma., while also looking at whether it is appropriate for younger viewers.
Emma. Movie Review for Parents
Rated PG, Emma. offers several key lessons that tweens can glean from watching. It is also a very simple movie in many ways.
Did you know the original novel Emma by Jane Austen served as the inspiration for the 1990’s teen hit Clueless? As if, right?!
Check out how the story of the movie Emma. is similar to Clueless.
19th Century English social hierarchy is, in some ways, not so different from the social hierarchy of adolescent cliques that begin in middle school and continue through high school.
In Emma., clever, rich, well-dressed Emma finds purpose in life by helping to improve the social standing of her only friend, Harriet Smith (actress Mia Goth), while also discovering that true love might be closer than she thought it was.
This is similar to Clueless, which shares the story of Cher Horowitz, the rich Beverly Hills socialite who plays matchmaker for her friends and does a makeover for her friend Tai, the awkward and unpopular girl, to make her socially acceptable.
With a PG rating, Emma. is much more appropriate for tweens than Clueless was, which was rated PG-13. Emma. still wouldn’t appeal to young children because of the theme of finding love.
My 10-year-old daughter liked Emma. She thought it was visually appealing. With the proper speech and detailed attire of a period piece, she also found it similar to one of her favorite movies, Little Women.
Although Emma. wasn’t the most compelling story, it had a light, fluffy plot that kept me entertained while stuck at home. After watching the anxiety-inducing news all day, this simple story helped me relax. If you aren’t looking to watch something serious, this is a great fit.
Check out a few lessons my daughter and I thought about when we watched it together.
Pour your heart into your talents.
One conflict is the competition between Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson), which shows the value of pouring your heart into your talents.
Everyone watches with admiration as Emma shares a nice song that she sings and plays on piano, which shows her social status and demonstrates her marriageability.
As Emma walks back to her seat, she makes a scornful remark to Jane Fairfax about how tough it must be to have forgotten her music at home.
With modesty, Jane says that she hopes she can remember the song.
The moment Jane plays her first notes of a melodic classical piece, the crowd is in shock.
Her piano playing shows such passion that everyone is stunned, including Emma, who becomes jealous and quietly frustrated with being upstaged.
In watching this scene, the value of hard work is clear. Motivation to practice must come from within, and it can bring great rewards.
Choose friends who accept you.
True friends should honestly see and accept you.
They should be kind and supportive, but not in an effort to make you become different.
Emma struggles with the dilemma of not having any real friends. To fill that empty space, she has one girl she spends time with, Harriet.
However, Harriet never feels truly seen by Emma. This superficial friendship is based on the idea of Emma being able to change and improve her.
Friendship is not about changing one another.
You can aim to be a good example for friends, but if you don’t appreciate their unique differences, that friendship might not be a good choice.
The purpose of friendship is not to make you feel superior.
As a lonely character, Emma needs a friend who is her equal, but because of her own superficial shortcomings, she is ill-suited as a friend. She chooses a friendship with Harriet because she can receive gratitude for being helpful.
Emma’s goal is to take Harriet away from poor acquaintances and to improve her, which would make her acceptable for good society.
However, this is not true friendship. The purpose of friendship should be to find company you can enjoy, not to make you feel better about yourself.
Friends should not feel superior or inferior to one another. Despite having differences and unique talents, friends should enjoy each other’s company, and they should feel as though they are equals with common interests.
If a friendship feels unbalanced, and you feel that your purpose is to lift that friend up, it’s not a truly equal friendship.
Is Emma. kid-friendly?
Although Emma. is rated PG, it is more ideal for teenagers and adults because it focuses a lot on romance, and it would be boring for little kids. It also briefly shows a man’s rear end.
Also, the lessons are rather complex for children. Ultimately, Emma discovers that her brother-in-law Mr. Knightley (actor Johnny Flynn) is the true friend she needs, and she learns that marriage can a source of friendship too.
After Emma struggles with finding a real friendship, she decides that marriage can replace friendship, and that lesson may be misconstrued for younger viewers.
For those reasons, tweens would be on the younger end of the ideal audience for Emma. They could find several worthwhile lessons, study a story based on a classic novel, and enjoy beautiful period costumes, but they may need some guidance from an adult while watching.