Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario), a troubled girl, becomes preoccupied with her mysterious, new neighbor Linda (Jessica Biel), who bears a striking resemblance to her deceased mother. In offering to babysit Linda’s newborn, Emanuel unwittingly enters a fragile, fictional world of which she becomes the gatekeeper. Ultimately, Emanuel is forced to face her own feelings about her lost mother and the fact that Linda is just as scarred and troubled as she is herself. The movie also stars Alfred Molina, Frances O’Connor, Aneurin Barnard, Jimmi Simpson and Gabriela Dias.
The Truth About Emanuel is a beautiful yet disturbing look at how we as humans handle profound psychological issues we are confronted with. Written and directed by the unknown Francesca Gregorini, it is safe to say I was skeptical about this film. The title doesn’t hint at all at the true nature and depth of the film. There is a lot to be discovered as you watch The Truth About Emanuel. I will say that the mystery feeling you get at the beginning of the film passes quickly, as the story reveals everything far too early to be able to truly call this a mystery. I think this is the biggest pitfall of the film: not utilizing the suspense to its fullest advantage.
Luckily, the mystery about Linda isn’t everything. I was enraptured by the psychological story. How can not just one but two people be so irrevocably damaged by events in their lives? I don’t have personal experience with situations like what is portrayed in the film, so I think that is why I was so caught up in it. Taking that into account, others might not be as engrossed as I was.
The complexity of the story and its characters would be nothing without the actors who portray it. I am intrigued by Scodelario, who is just as unknown as her director. Many of the shots chose to focus on Scodelario’s face, so it’s a good thing that she holds all her emotion there. Especially in her eyes. She does a beautiful job of translating disturbing thoughts and ideas through her eyes and to the audience. Biel, who people are more familiar with, isn’t as impressive as Scodelario, but she still delivers a believable performance.
My rating for The Truth About Emanuel is higher than what most would give it (including my other half), but the film really surprised me and impressed me with its depth and complexity. It doesn’t hit all notes right, but it gets enough that I would willingly watch it again.