Ema (2019)

Sometimes enigmatic and confusing, sometimes fiery with emotion, Pablo Larrain’s intriguing Ema peels the layers off a woman’s dance with death.

Marriage Story

by Alexa Dalby


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

“CRITIC’S PICK. An anarchic, liberated, and contagiously alive character study that feels like it was born out of a three-way between Amélie, Oldboy, and Gaspar Noé before maturing into a force of nature all its own.” – INDIEWIRE, David Ehrlich

“A hypnotic and beautiful work driven by a killer performance. You’ll remain under Ema’s spell for a long time after the credits have rolled.”
– LITTLE WHITE LIES, Caitlin Quinlan

“At once a visually expressionistic hymn to female agency and liberation, a psychological thriller that always stays one step ahead of the viewer and a flamboyant reggaeton dance musical”

Pablo Larrain‘s (Jackie, Neruda) Ema builds up to its punchline in unexplained fragments – the flame thrower, the fires, the spectacular reggaeton street dance routines around the Chilean port city of Valparaíso, the theatre dance performance, the school class.

And most of all Polo (Cristián Suárez), the adopted child who’s the catalyst for bisexual dancer Ema’s (Mariana Di Girolamo) anguish. Gael García Bernal as her controlling choreographer husband has a strangely passive role in inexplicable, unflattering dungarees.

In the tensions of this marriage, they are tearing themselves apart in public. It’s a long wait until the mystery at the film’s heart is revealed, which then prompts a re-reading of the entire film.

Ema premiered at the Venice Film Festival, screened at the BFI London Film Festival and is released in cinemas on 13 August 2021 in the UK.

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