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‘Emily’ – Review

‘Emily’ – Review


Captured with an eye for ethereal yet haunting beauty, Emily is a bold story of the romantic era that captures the dawning of an artist as the famed Emily Brontë finds her voice, and how she came to write the infamous story of Wuthering Heights.

Imagines the transformative, exhilarating, and uplifting journey to womanhood of a rebel and a misfit, one of the world’s most famous, enigmatic, and provocative writers, Emily Bronte, who died too soon at the age of 30.

Actress turned filmmaker Frances O’Connor makes an extraordinary feature debut with Emily, a soulful portrait of one of the world’s best-known writers Emily Brontë, whose short life was cut short so soon, and whose impressionable work, Wuthering Heights, changed literature forever. Emily is her story now brought to the screen, and it is a deep examination of womanhood, creativity, isolation and the birth of the artist. O’Connor presents a detailed and empathic character study of Brontë’s formal years and how her family, personality, relationships and romances shape her life and writing,

As a cinematic experience, Emily is a film driven by character and its director, Frances O’Conner, clearly had a grand vision for this picture which shows through the way the film is shot and displayed. Her approach to narrative carries great thought and vision, and this is a film shaped by female perspective and expression. Having both written and directed this feature you feel her personal touch, and she is not only commenting on the spirit of Emily Brontë’s creative journey but also what is to live as a female creator and the path one must take to discover their voice.

Emily is a film of light and texture and O’Conner and her talented team of cinematographer Nanu Segal, production designer Steve Summersgill, costume designer Michael O’Connor and noted composer Abel Korzeniowski craft an elegant canvas of images that capture the soul of the Romantic Era. A mix of vibrant pastel blues, purples and pinks blend together earth tones of brown and green to capture the rolling untouched landscape of the Yorkshire mores and the birthplace of Emily Brontë’s imagination. Shot with adherence to natural light, and holding a grainy quality that appears like oil on canvas, Emily is an utterly gorgeous piece of cinema to look upon and you’ll be enchanted by the natural beauty that appears before your eyes.

Chosen by O’Connor to embody the body and spirit of Emily Brontë is Emma Mackey, an actress of French-English heritage who is quickly on the rise as a go-to talent. Mackey’s performance is made up of equal parts discovery and isolation as she channels the burning creativity that lies at Emily’s heart, but also must contend with the severe anxiety and mental anguish that the real Brontë suffered from. Known as a woman who was closed off from society, we see her discover first love and romance, but reel and fall away to severe anxiety and all manic states of mood. Mackey’s performance is brave and transformative and she gives all of herself to this role, and it is this that benefits the film enormously.

As an experience, Emily is an incredibly sensual piece of cinema to watch. Through it we see a young woman growing into herself and the emotions and desires that come to wrap themselves around all young women. There are moments of tender joy and hilarious fun, which are then contrasted by an encroaching gothic feeling that leaves our characters cold and wrecked. This film is a piece of art realised on the canvas of the silver screen and it leaves its impression on its audience by the final frame.

Emily is a film of haunting beauty that explores the birth of one of history’s most important literary voices and it’s a picture that will leave its mark on its audience.

Image: MadMan Films