EMA (2019)

Opinion & writing by Tony Frame

Mariana Di Girolamo plays Ema, a streetwise reggaeton dancer who is grieving after she and her husband (Gael García Bernal) put their adopted son back up for adoption due to his behavioural problems.

Visually stunning, it’s aided with a great synth soundtrack that adds to an undercurrent of impending doom throughout.

The film feels like a neo-noir at times and certainly it encompasses some themes from that genre when Ema starts a love triangle with a husband and wife who have no idea that she is sleeping with either of them.

Ema has ulterior motives for these relationships and throughout the course of the movie I was waiting for something epic to transpire, only to be let down slightly at the last hurdle.

Images courtesy of IMDB

Mariana Di Girolamo is sublime as the lead, portraying a connivingly seductive temptress who displays moments of fragility with such tact that I could see what made her so alluring to those who fall for her.

I don’t know if this is a film I would watch again but there were quite a few cryptic moments that I feel I might gain something from a re-watch.

Images courtesy of IMDB

It reminded me of Blood Simple (1984) in places and at other times it felt like Lars Von Trier had stepped in to direct a couple of scenes – specifically the more obscure scenes which are, I suppose, an interpretation or representation of Ema’s unstable mental state.

I haven’t seen many Chilean films before and this certainly makes me want to see more. There are no negative aspects in this movie, I just felt, or at least expected, an explosive ending of sorts, but I guess that’s just me being selfish.

I also felt that Gael García Bernal was slightly underused but then again, this is Mariana Di Girolamo’s showcase and what a job she does of it.

The director, Pablo Larraín, is a man who knows exactly what he’s doing here and he does it with style and confidence that I will certainly check out more of his work.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Director: Pablo Larraín

Writers: Guillermo CalderónPablo Larraín 1 more credit »

Stars: Mariana Di GirolamoGael García Bernal, Santiago Cabrera | See full cast & crew »

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