2022, Movies

Emily (2022, Frances O’Connor)

I normally hate when biopics deviate wildly from the historical record but, in this case, it really doesn’t bother me as much. And I think that’s because the director essentially admitted it was all made up in her introduction. I have more time for these historical inaccuracies if only because I know it’s fantasy.

Mild spoilers

I know nothing about the Brontes. I’ve read none of their novels or poems and only seen one version Wuthering Heights once, a very long time ago. So some of the allusions to those works were likely lost on me. It’s fair to say I’m not the target audience.

But I mostly found the film entertaining, if overlong. It’s much funnier than you might think a biopic of a Bronte sister would be. And it’s really well shot for a debut. It’s filmed in a much more modern way than your typical period piece (at least those I’ve seen), featuring tons of close-ups (and tracking close-ups), as well as weird perspectives and angles, and shaky camera. In terms of the way it’s filmed, I can’t say I’ve seen too many other period pieces filmed in such a modern way. (Though I do not, as a rule, watch period pieces.) It’s an assured debut, from a framing and filming perspective.

The film deviates utterly from the historical record. A quick glance at Wikipedia shows that the timeline of the deaths (spoiler alert!) and publishing is completely off and altered solely for dramatic purposes. But, as I said, if you view the film as a fiction featuring people inspired by real people, that’s less of a problem.

A real problem is how modern Emily feels (and looks) and how unlikely that feels. But another is the pacing – the film is just too damn long. Maybe a shorter film would be so enjoyable we don’t care how historically inaccurate the whole thing is.

Two other nitpicks: there is no winter in this version of Yorkshire. And though the ghost thing is an allusion to Wuthering Heights, it was my least favourite part of the movie.

Still liked this a lot more than I thought I would.


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