The best movies are subversive. Films are so ingrained that they do not come to the viewer to visually and narrative confirm what he already knows, but that desire, rather requires, that the viewer come to the film and allow himself to be confused.
This film is “Emma” by Chilean director Pablo Larrain. And here comes the first disturbing paradox. Or an apparent contradiction. It is a movie about grief. But it’s also a movie about energy. A devastating movie because an important part is about a couple tearing each other apart on the ground because they are grieving over their adoptive son they have abandoned. But it is also a cathartic experience because their struggle is a way for both of them to progress.
Dancing is crucial in Laran’s movie, because mourning and sadness are not filtered out and brought into the world through those movements. The fiery and lively focus is Emma, who ditched her little adopted son after mutilating her sister’s face and putting someone’s cat in the freezer. You can condemn it, abandoning an adoptive son, but the movie does not care about such morals. Nor in condemning ever-changing sexual relationships. This is about Emma, about her pain and happiness, about her venting.
Laren stays close to Emma and sometimes her lover, choreographer Gaston (Gail Garcia Bernal), whom she calls condoms because it’s sterile. Larraín wants to show a new generation that does not care about the wisdom of the previous generation. Not because of promiscuity, but because the idea that love can only be given to someone else is unnecessarily tied and hopelessly outdated. Incidentally, the disturbing soundtrack of electric composer Nicholas Jarre is also lovely.
Ema can be viewed as a 24-hour preview in fifty countries on Friday May 1 via MUBI’s live streaming service.