Chilean Pablo Larraín is a fabulous director, but his newest film, Ema, leaves one with a sense of anticlimax and dissatisfaction, especially after the ridiculous finale. The filmmaker maintains the dark undertones that characterize his films but forgot the sardonic humor in this icy tale of guilt, cynicism and lust that loses consistency with time.
The story, co-written by Larraín, Guillermo Calderón (who worked with director in The Club and Neruda) and Alejandro Moreno, follows a heartless blonde dancer, Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo), who faces widespread social contempt for having returned the Colombian child she adopted with her sterile and inflexible choreographer husband, Gastón (Gael Garcia Bernal), to the social services. Since then, guilt has been consuming their hearts, not to mention that their relationship was heavily affected. Hence, it’s not that strange that love, blame and forgiveness blur with hazy boundaries throughout the film. The plan devised by Ema to reach the child years later is carried out too easily, making you doubt its credibility.
Things can be viscerally painful in one moment and openly voluptuous the next, but it’s clear that the intensity of the performances, especially Di Girolamo in her first leading role, is what pulls the film out of mediocrity.
Another positive aspect is the soundtrack by Nicolas Jaar, which fits hand-in-glove in the type of mood envisioned by its creators. Pity that the zaniness of the plot prevented Larraín from succeeding this time.
Film Rating: 2.5/5
Director: Pablo Larraín
Stars: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael Garcia Bernal
Runtime: 107 minutes