In Review: The Truth About Emanuel

by Lauren Harrison on 09/05/2014


A rather solemn opening voice over from the film’s title character sets the tone of the film from the off. We are told in the opening scene that her mother died during childbirth; an event that has hit Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario) hard, which she also feels responsible for.

There is little to like about Emanuel as a leading character, who borrows the mannerisms of Donnie Darko and the demeanour of Winona Ryder in Heathers, but not their wit. In fact, there is little to like about any of the characters on screen. They are all either side-stepped over to make way for more of Emanuel’s martyr-ish angst with the world around her, or are there to serve no obvious purpose.

Emanuel’s relationship with her father Dennis (played by a severely underused Alfred Molina) could be something to get involved with, but instead, he serves as a middleman between Emanuel and her hated step-mother, poor old Janice (Frances O’Connor), just rolling his eyes over crass and awkward dinner table conversations.

The arrival of mysterious next door neighbour, Linda (Jessica Biel) provides an alternative world for Emanuel; the aloof and whimsical Linda bears a striking resemblance to a photograph Emanuel keeps of her mother. The troubled girl is soon playing babysitter and doing odd jobs around Linda’s home. It doesn’t make sense and Janice, quite rightly, is curious.

The premise of the film is akin to that of a thriller; suspense is rife and upon the arrival of Linda, her lack of an explanation for her arrival gives the impression of genuine suspense. Alas, it remains as a mere impression. The dramatic pauses do not play to effect and the film progresses as one weird scenario after another utterly weird scenario. It feels incredibly ironic when it should be chilling.

There is something of a ‘twist’ to the tale which is revealed 30 minutes into the story. A mistake from writer and director Francesca Gregorini, as the 60 minutes that remain only serve to bond Emanuel and Linda closer together for a reason which ultimately offers little explanation.

The only saving grace? Wonderful cinematography from the little known Polly Morgan; the true star of this shambles of a film.

Lauren has awarded The Truth About Emanuel one Torch of Truth


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