Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Emma. Movie Poster Image
Delightful Austen adaptation has a couple of cheeky scenes.
  • PG
  • 2020
  • 123 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 14 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Learning to ask for forgiveness and to not manipulate others is a big theme. Knightley explains why "punching up" is OK in humor but not "punching down," and why what Emma said to Miss Bates was hurtful, mean, humiliating. Idea of breaking social class norms for romance and friendship is explored, even though disparity in class isn't common or even promoted (only former governess Mrs. Weston is an "uneven" match). Showing generosity and kindness to all is important, and empathy and compassion are themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emma makes lots of mistakes out of vanity and self-importance but learns from them, is able to redeem herself by asking for forgiveness and showing kindness. Knightley is compassionate, chivalrous, kind. He's good to his tenant farmers and wants the best for Emma. Harriet is usually in awe of Emma but eventually learns to be confident in her own ideas and feelings. Mrs. Weston is like a mother figure to Emma, guiding and encouraging her.


Thieves (named as "gypsies") nearly assault a character on a country road, but she's rescued and helped. Harriet hurts her ankle and must be carried. Mr. Woodhouse is a hypochondriac who requires daily checkups from his personal physician. Emma gets an unexpected nosebleed.


Nonsexual partial nudity includes glimpses of bare buttocks as a man is dressed by servants and as a woman warms herself in front of a fire. Lots of conversations about matchmaking, courtship, and marrying within or above your station. Longing looks between people who are attracted to each other. A couple of passionate kisses toward the end of the movie.


"Good God" as an exclamation. Insults like "unpardonably rude," "arrogant," "selfish," "insolent." A man tells Emma he never gave Harriet a second thought or cared if she was "dead or alive" -- only that she was Emma's friend.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine or liquor at social gatherings. Emma believes a man is being forward because he's had too much to drink (but he's not drunk as she suspects).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Emma. is a delightful adaptation of Jane Austen's much-beloved classic about a clever, charming young woman who can't stop meddling in her friends' love lives. It's quite tame overall, but there's a quick scene of partial nudity when Knightley (Johnny Flynn) undresses (his naked backside is shown) and another side view of Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) as she warms her rear end near the fireplace for a moment before lowering her gown. Neither scene is sexual in nature. But characters do kiss, flirt, and talk about marriage and courtship. Characters drink socially, and Emma believes a man to be drunk. There's no strong language or violence, though one character is nearly set upon by thieves, and another gets a nosebleed. The movie, like the book, explores issues of women's roles in society, friendship and courtship across social classes, and why manipulating others, even for their own good, rarely ends well. Adapted by screenwriter Eleanor Catton and directed by photographer and music director Autumn de Wilde, the movie has themes of empathy, compassion, and learning to ask for forgiveness.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylauramh7 March 11, 2020

The nudity distracted and annoyed me for half the movie

While I absolutely love the story of Emma, and otherwise the movie had beautiful scenery and some of the actors did a good job, the director's choice to sh... Continue reading
Adult Written bySistersinpetticoats March 20, 2020

Nudity, should not be PG

It is fine, but has two scenes out of nowhere that have naked backsides. I was watching with my kids and trusted the PG rating. It was super awkward. It has bea... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 31, 2020

My new favorite movie

I loved this movie! It was hilarious and so much fun. Emma realizes when she makes a mistake, or was mean, and apologizes, in her own way. The music was wond... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 16, 2020

A Charming Romantic Comedy

This movie is good, but it was a little confusing and it moves a long very fast. There is brief nudity twice, but older kids should be able to handle that. Ther... Continue reading

What's the story?

Director Autumn de Wilde's EMMA. is based on Jane Austen's classic 19th century novel in which aristocratic not-quite-21-year-old Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is bored after the marriage of her beloved governess, Miss Taylor (Gemma Whelan), to widower Mr. Weston (Rupert Graves). Looking for a matchmaking project, Emma, who lives with her anxious father (Bill Nighy), befriends Harriet Smith (Mia Goth), a young woman of unknown parentage who attends the village's boarding school for underprivileged girls. Emma is determined to pair Harriet with young vicar Mr. Elton (Josh O'Connor), so she convinces Harriet not to accept a proposal from handsome tenant farmer Robert Martin (Connor Swindells). Emma's neighbor (and sister's brother-in-law) Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) advises her against meddling, but she'll hear none of it. Meanwhile, Mr. Weston's mysterious son, Frank Churchill (Callum Turner), who's set to inherit a mansion, and Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson), the accomplished and educated niece of village spinster Miss Bates (Miranda Hart), each arrive in Highbury, adding comedic drama to Emma's social circle. Love triangles, social faux pas, balls, proposals, and weddings ensue.

Is it any good?

Gorgeous details combined with a funnier-than-expected screenplay and a wonderful ensemble make this one of the best Jane Austen adaptations in many years. Director Autumn de Wilde and screenwriter Eleanor Catton have infused Emma. with heart, humor, and a positive gloss on the female relationships in the story. Taylor-Joy's expressive face and spot-on mannerisms turn the well-intentioned but clueless main character into a redeemable person who's far more substantial than her superficial matchmaking suggests. Flynn is an unconventional but fabulous choice for Knightley. He's not the typical tall/lantern-jawed hero like the men who play Frank Churchill or Robert Martin, but he's passionate and generous and he sees Emma.

The production design is top-notch, transforming England's countryside into a Regency village with its abbey manses, tenant farms, town shops, and more. The costumes are amazing, including the way that so much about each character is expressed through the costume choices, from Vicar Elton's overblown sleeves to his pretentious bride's larger-than-necessary accessories to Harriet's simple but beautiful dresses and, of course, Emma's to-die-for gowns, which connect her to surroundings and people in each season. Then there's the introduction to Knightley undressing and dressing (yes, you'll see his bum for a quick moment). Even stripped of all the finery and societal norms, it's the relationships that are most important here, and Taylor-Joy, Flynn, Goth, Nighy, and company don't disappoint. The back-and-forth between Emma and Knightley is reminiscent of screwball-comedy banter, and it's hilariously fraught with sexual tension. Those familiar with Austen's work will likely appreciate Emma. the most, but newcomers will also be delighted by this charming adaptation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the continued appeal of Jane Austen novels and their adaptations/retellings. What do you think of Emma.? How does it rank among other Austen adaptations?

  • Is Emma a likable character? How does she redeem herself for her self-described vanity, arrogance, and selfishness? How do you think she compares to Austen's other central characters?

  • Who if anyone, do you consider a role model in the story? How do they display compassion, empathy, and humility? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Explore the representations of female friendship in the story. Why does Emma befriend Harriet but resent Jane Fairfax? Do you agree with Knightley that Emma is envious of Jane's accomplishments, despite Jane's less prosperous upbringing?

  • There are a couple scenes of partial nudity. The director has explained that she wanted to humanize Knightley and Emma in a nonsexual way. What do you think about those two moments? Do you get the director's meaning, or do you think one or both scenes were unnecessary?

Movie details

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