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Ema

Pablo Larraín
Chile 2019
102min
V'19

The latest from versatile Chilean director Pablo Larraín is at once a devious psychological thriller, a visually expressionistic hymn to female agency and sexual lawlessness, and a flamboyant reggaeton dance musical. Maria Di Girolamo plays Ema, a young woman dedicated to dance, who performs in the experimental troupe run by her choreographer husband Gastón. But Ema’s fascination with fire had a disastrous effect on Polo, the young boy she and Gastón adopted previously, and having lost him, they now want the child back. How Ema goes about retrieving Polo involves a complex strategy of seduction, as well as ample use of a flamethrower – both for narrative purposes and as a figure of this woman’s explosive energy and fearsome will. Visually extravagant and sexually intense, the film is driven by the dynamism of reggaeton – both the music and the dance style, Ema’s favoured mode of self-expression (and the subject of an inspired rant by Gastón). Larraín’s regular cinematographer Sergio Armstrong creates a dazzling portrait of street life in the city of Valparaíso, and Di Girolamo’s formidable lead performance is by turns alluring and unnerving – a portrait of a woman on fire. (Jonathan Romney)

Credits
  • Maria Di Girolamo - Ema
  • Gael García Bernal - Gastón
  • Santiago Cabrera
  • Josefna Fiebelkorn
  • Guillermo Calderón
  • Alejandro Moreno
  • Sergio Armstrong
  • Sebastián Sepúlveda
  • Nicolas Jaar
  • Estefania Larrain
  • Felipe Criado
Fabula

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