Google+


REVIEWS

June 8, 2013

2013 BFF Capsule Review: ‘Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes’

Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes

Written & Directed by Francesca Gregorini
Staring Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, Alfred Molina, Frances O’Connor, Aneurin Barnard

Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes’, a surrealist drama from director Francesca Gregorini, often grasps for dramatic momentum.  But strong chemistry between the two female leads, impressive cinematography, and a moving score buoy the film, which culminates in a powerful final act.

The film’s title character (Kaya Scodelario of TV’s ‘Skins’) is a young woman still tormented by the death of her mother, who died giving birth to her. She has constant visions of water flooding in from under doors and walls, threatening to consume her. Her reserved father (Alfred Molina) and distant stepmother (Frances O’Connor) cannot ease her mind. Emanuel starts babysitting for Linda (Jessica Biel), a new neighbor who bears a striking resemblance to her mother.

The film is often tediously paced, especially in its first act, which is dedicated to establishing a gloomy and foreboding mood. But a shocking reveal involving Linda’s baby (which this reviewer dares not spoil) sets some fascinating character dynamics between Emanuel and Linda in motion.

The two actresses are convincing in difficult roles. Scodelario captures Emanuel’s self-loathing and desire for maternal acceptance. Biel conveys how Linda’s placid demeanor conceals deep anguish. And the two have enormous chemistry. Emanuel’s guilt and longing as a daughter go hand in hand with Linda’s grave troubles as a mother. Emanuel, ever protective of Linda, looks after her baby and tries to protect its secret, both from Linda and from the outside world. Linda, meanwhile, provides emotional support that Emanuel cannot find anywhere else. These are two damaged people helping each other start the painful process of mental and emotional recovery.

One of the major flaws of “Emanuel” is that any distraction from their story feels out of place. This is especially true of Emanuel’s relationship with Claude (Aneurin Barnard), a young man whom she starts flirting with on the train. Scodelario and Barnard have little chemistry. Emanuel’s fledgling romance is there for thematic reasons, paralleling and rivaling her relationship with Linda. But it only takes time away from that relationship, which is the film’s beating heart.

The film’s flaws vanish in its gorgeous final act, when Emanuel and Linda are forced to confront their demons. Nathan Larson’s score soars with emotion, and Cinematographer Polly Morgan effectively emphasizes the traps the characters are trying to dig themselves out of. Her tight framing and vivid color schemes are especially effective during a sequence in which Emanuel swims her way out of a surreal flood. And the closing interactions between Linda and Emanuel are deeply moving, filled with pain and hope.

The film may take a while to get where it is going, and at times feels like it is treading water until the story kicks into a new gear. But it arrives at something beautiful and poignant. ‘Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes’ is a moving exploration of the ways that relationships can help us overcome grief.

* ‘Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes’ recently screened as part of the 2013 Brooklyn Film Festival

Full Apple Full Apple Full Apple

- David Teich






 
 
 

 
Soft-in-the-Head-featured

Nathan Silver’s ‘Soft in the Head’ Set to Open Theatrically in NYC

Thrown out of her New York City apartment, Natalia (Sheila Etxeberría), a 25-year-old emotionally unhinged young woman, relies on the kindness of friends and strangers. Seemingly unaware of the havoc she wreaks, she skips f...
by Steve Rickinson
0

 
 
Ship_of_Theseus_Featured_Scene

Review: ‘Ship of Theseus’

Directed by Anand Gandhi Written by Anand Gandhi, Pankaj Kumar, Kushboo Rhanka Starring Aida Al Kashef, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Yashwant Wasnik What if a damaged ship were repaired, piece-by-piece, until not a scrap of the shi...
by David Teich
0

 
 
bff-logo-590x265

17th Annual BROOKLYN FILM FESTIVAL Announces 2014 Edition: Formula

Brooklyn Film Festival, the largest independent, competitive, international film festival in the borough, has closed submissions for its 17th annual edition themed Formula. BFF received over 2,000 films from over 100 countries,...
by Steve Rickinson
0

 

 
drunktowns_Finest_Sundance_Still

SUNDANCE PROFILE – DRUNKTOWN’s FINEST: Native American Filmmaker Comes of Age Within LGBT Genre

by H.S. Bayer The Sundance premiere of Drunktown’s Finest female filmmaker Sydney Freeland finally fulfilled the great expectations, for her first feature that its followers, from the Sundance Institute, Native Forum, Film...
by H.S. Bayer
0

 
 
Rich_Hill_Featured

Sundance Grand Jury Documentary Winner Finds Distribution Home

Filmmakers Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo recently announced the Emmy Award-winning television series Independent Lens will partner with film and music distribution company The Orchard to distribute their film &#...
by Steve Rickinson
0

 
 
Through-a-Lens-Darkly-Sundance-Berinale

John Singleton Signs On As Executive Producer For ‘Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographs and the Emergence of a People’

Acclaimed filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris and his production company, Chimpanzee Productions, today announced the involvement of filmmaker John Singleton as Executive Producer for the documentary feature film THROUGH A LENS DARKL...
by Steve Rickinson
0

 




0 comments