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.
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