Through The Fire (Film Thoughts: Ema)

ema-chilean-movie-poster-md‘Ema,’ directed by Pablo Larrain is a visual treat. And that’s a good thing, because the narrative is a bit on the confusing side. Mariana di Girolamo plays the titular character and is a dancer, married to Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal) They adopted a child, and in the beginning of the film, we learn that they have returned him to Child Protective Services – we learn the child has had problems with them, freezing their cat and burning the face of Ema’s sister. But we learn there may be more to that – Gaston seems to be impotent, and Ema is establishing some kind of relationship with a woman and a man, both of whom, we learn later, have very specific relationship to the child they adopted. All in this swirls in fire and color, and a lively reaggaton soundtrack. The film is relentlessly watchable, and always fascinating, even if at times you never really know where the story is going, or have been. But it rarely matters – ‘Ema’ is a character study of a someone who is unapologetically strong – even when you don’t agree or sympathize with her, she is always up and front of you, and you will not help but be mesmerized by her.

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