I usually quite enjoy confusing films, but this Chilean drama wasn’t a twisty-turning thrill, it was a series of events that didn’t quite fit together. Saying that, it had some redeeming qualities, and there were many enjoyable moments.
The Plot in a Nutshell
Ema is a young dancer and is in the process of leaving her older husband, Gaston, who is a choreographer. During their marriage they had fostered a young boy, Polo, who had caused tragic issues due to his pyromania. Polo was re-homed and this has caused guilt and grief within both Ema and Gaston. Ema begins down a path of destruction that will ultimately cause pain to everyone around her: Gaston, Polo’s new parents, her friends and family, all because she wants to be in Polo’s life (and elevate her guilt). In amongst all this, Ema and her friends (below) perform reggaetion dance.
I think the best way to describe Ema is “style over substance”, it was beautifully shot, the scenery was glorious and the light, colouring and music was to die for. However, I feel the plot didn’t do as well. In general, it was a little hard to follow and I was quite muddled for most of the time.
Mariana Di Girolamo (who played Ema) is a wonderful actress, she takes the character and really puts everything into it. However, the character was pushed and pulled in different directions and you weren’t quite sure what her motivations were. It would have worked if her motivations were clearly guilt or spite or even love, but none were ever clear.
The break up that begins the story, between Ema and Gaston, was a little odd. I didn’t feel that there had ever been love between them, they had little chemistry and I wondered how they had ever gotten together. There was far more chemistry between Ema and her divorce lawyer, Raquel (Paola Giannini), who I think was my favourite character. Giannini did a great job of playing a confused, professional woman, looking for something she’s not getting at home.
I have to mention, not that I particularly mind it, the amount of chaotic sex. Ema is sleeping with nearly every named character, which is clearly part of her character. However, I wasn’t entirely sure it was needed here – did we really need to see full sex between Ema and every character to get over her promiscuity?
As well as the look of the film, the thing I liked the best was the dancing. It was really wonderfully choreographed (by Jose Luís Vidal) and it really had me wrapped.
Overall, a beautiful film with a messy story. I’m still very excited to see more from Mariana Di Girolamo and would recommend it to dance lovers as a piece of art, rather than a story-driven fiilm.