Let me confess at the start of this. Like most young lads of my generation, I’ve never been a fan of Jane Austen’s books or the endless films made of them. So, I was delighted to come upon one that is surprisingly a whole lot of fun.

Mind you, in true Austen fashion, it creeps along at two hours, 12 minutes and could have been heavily scissored without regret by the brand-new and talented director Autumn de Wilde. Autumn loves music, so get ready for a lot of Mozart, Beethoven and choral echoes.

For those of you who aren’t “Emma” fans, this might jog your memory.

There were two film adaptations of the book in 1996, a feature movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and then Kate Beckinsale in made for television movie. And in addition, there was the 1995 movie “Clueless” set in (gasp) Beverly Hills and starring Alicia Silverstone, a comedy that all teenagers at the time loved, without a clue as to its origins.

Now we have “Emma” back on the screen, beautifully crafted and smartly cast by de Wilde in a version, my daughter, who in her Master’s research on the famous author, tells me is the closest yet to Austen’s original book.

De Wilde is fortunate to have the lovely Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Witch”) in the title role.

Taylor-Joy, with a porcelain complexion, startling eyes, and dew dropped daffodil curls, handles all the gown-swishing — and lace fan waving required to bring Austen’s Emma alive.

We’re shown at once that Emma, while heart jousting with George Knightly, (the hunky Johnny Flynn) delights in spurts of matchmaking for friends and acquaintances, a pastime, while well intentioned, is tinted with a dark shading of manipulation. Watch for that.

In the most important of her efforts, Emma has fixed upon getting her best friend Harriet Smith (a delightful Mia Goth, who constantly steals each scene she’s in) to the altar with Mr. Elton, the town vicar (the skillful Josh O’Connor from “The Crown”) but Harriet, for some reason, who never seems to be attending classes at the local girls’ school with her classmates, yearns instead for the tall, gangly Mr. Martin, (Connor Swindells) a shy commoner with manure splattered boots.

“Emma” provides a background display of some very good actors romping around gardens, woodside picnics and various tea parties, seasonal festivities and ballroom flirtations, most notable being British comedian Miranda Hart.

What drew me to review “Emma” was the presence of Bill Nighy, the great Bill Nighy, arguably the greatest comic actor in Britain.

You will remember Bill as the aging rock star in “Love Actually,” the gentle husband in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” and Davy Jones in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

It is Bill, an aging Puck and quirky bag of bones of a father, who brightened the movie for me. Bill’s comic wardrobe of suits, cravats, and dressing gowns created by the amazing Alexandra Byrne, is magnificent and deserving of a review all its own.

Thanks to the artists involved, the film soars, and putting the gilded, richly cluttered and over flowered Regency period into Stella Fox’s and Alice Sutton’s magical hands, blows it all up into a feast for the eyes and fun for all.

The entire movie, even when it slows down, continues to burst with color, bounce and energy and eventually provided smiles all around. Methinks Austen could never have imagined it coming to such joyful life.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

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