Emily film poster


Great art can come from or be springboarded by great heart-break. That’s the premise that Australian actor Frances O’ Connor delivers in her directorial debut in this semi-fictional, partly dramatised version of the last few years in the life of the great English writer, Emily Brontë.

Having seen the film I thought it time to actually read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and so the next day I bought it from my favourite local bookshop, The Best Little Bookshop in Town (if you’re ever in Cronulla, Sydney, Australia please check it out, it’s a great bookshop) and I am enjoying it so far. I love it when one medium takes me to another.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Emma Mackey in Emily.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Emma Mackey in Emily.

This film focusses on Emily and is held together brilliantly by an amazing central performance by Emma Mackey, her portrayal traverses the emotional landscape with depth and daring. Also starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen as William Weightman who Emily becomes involved with, Amelia Gething playing her younger sister Anne Brontë, Alexandra Dowling as older sister Charlotte, Fionn Whitehead as brother Bramwell, the mighty Adrian Dunbar (“Mother of God”) as the father, Patric and Gemma Jones as Aunt Branwell. Everyone is committed, talented and all give great performances. Being directed by an actor definitely helps the process.

Adrian Dunbar, Gemma Jones, Emma Mackey and Amelia Gethin in Emily

Abel Korzeniowski musically scores the film beautifully, at times wistful and others heart wrenchingly so. 

What is it with violins and their ability to connect to and express the feelings and emotions of the heart? Is there an instrument that does specifically that any better? Think of Itzhak Perlman’s playing on John William’s soundtrack to Schindler’s List. Heartbreaking.

The line is fine. Too much and it spoils, too little and it fails to garner an emotional response but just right….. Korzeniowski treads the line with grace and beauty.

The Brontë sisters.

The Brontë sisters.

Emily is known in town as ‘the strange one’ as her thinking lies outside the box and this is ultimately where her genius comes from. She writes poems that are lauded by her brother Branwell, her sisters and the local curate. Her father doesn’t know what to do with her and Emily becomes a teacher at a school before eventually finding it all too much and returning to the family home. She falls in love with the local Curate, William who is filled with confusion, and inner conflict and thus there the drama lies.

Deftly written and directed by Frances O’ Connor it tells of Emily’s short but passionate life utilising known events and imagined situations to dramatise her life.

Brilliant, moving and poetic this is a worthy addition to the mythology and history of the Brontës.
See it.

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