Film of the month: Ema

Eva Mackevic

Chaos, anarchy and reggaeton rule the world of Pablo Larraín’s unrestrained new drama about an adoption gone wrong

Parenting is hard work but director Pablo Larraín really takes it to a whole new hellish level in his bizarro new work, Ema. The striking, platinum-haired protagonist Ema and her husband, Gaston, adopt a boy called Polo but once a disastrous event takes place, they’re forced to give him back up.

We don’t know exactly what happened to bring on this drastic decision; we have to work it out for ourselves with the small crumbs of information we’re given throughout the film, that begin to form a heavy, ominous lump in your throat as you get closer to the truth. 

"The film offers a unique, if uncomfortable take on being a parent and the weight of the emotional trauma it sometimes inflicts on the child involved"

The film offers a unique, if uncomfortable take on being a parent and the weight of the emotional trauma it sometimes inflicts on the child involved. It’s also unafraid to insinuate that some people are just better off never becoming a mother or a father, including Ema and Gaston—even if they refuse to accept it to the bitter end. Ema’s so much more than a straightforward story about a broken family though.

The drama is interspersed here with beautifully shot, exhilarating dance sequences taking place on rooftops, basketball courts and buses, with Ema’s girl gang body-popping to the loopy, electronic beats of Nicolas Jaar’s remorselessly aloof but oh-so-catchy soundtrack.

Ema is available to watch on Mubi now 

Read more: Great films you can watch on YouTube right now 

Read more: The Sundance 2020 film roundup 

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