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Festival Gala

Ema

Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s (Jackie, No) Ema features a superb Gael García Bernal and a spellbinding lead performance from newcomer Mariana Di Girolamo.

Dir Pablo Larraín
Prod Juan De Dios Larraín
Scr Guillermo Calderón, Pablo Larraín, Alejandro Moreno
With Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael García Bernal, Paola Giannini, Santiago Cabrera
Chile
2019
102min
Sales The Match Factory
With English subtitles

Every new Pablo Larraín film is a miracle of imagination, invention and insight into human behaviour. And Ema may be his most lyrical and poetic yet – a character study of a beguiling woman who is ruled by heart and impulse. In a vivid collage of scenes shot by Sergio Armstrong (The Club, Souvenir), with an expressive score from Nicolas Jaar, Larraín paints a picture of talented contemporary street/reggaeton dancer and teacher Ema. We learn of a recent trauma and her fiery relationship with her slightly older husband (Gael García Bernal), who is both a choreographer and her creative collaborator. Their recent adoption of a troubled child has gone badly, for which they are harshly judged. They, in turn, blame one another. Writing with Guillermo Calderón (Neruda) and Alejandro Moreno, Larraín’s film intersperses explosive, intoxicating scenes of dance within dramatic moments that are fractured in time. Through them, we get an indelible sense of Ema. Fragments of her past are revealed to us, but she is very much presented as a creature of this moment: wounded, fierce, loving and committed to righting wrongs, often through unconventional and occasionally dubious means. Her magnetism pulls people into her orbit and it’s a seductive place to be; at once tender, volatile, physical and fully alive.

Tricia Tuttle


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