Director: Frances O’Connor
Runtime: 2hrs 10 minutes
Cast: Emma Mackey, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Alexandra Dowling, Amelia Gething, Fionn Whitehead, Adrian Dunbar and Gemma Jones
Synopsis: Emily tells the imagined life of one of the world’s most famous authors, Emily Brontë. Emily, a rebel and misfit, finds her voice and writes the literary classic Wuthering Heights. It explores the relationships that inspired her – her raw, passionate sisterhood with Charlotte and Anne; her first aching, forbidden love for Weightman and her care for her maverick brother, Branwell whom she idolises.
Actor-turned-director Frances O’Connor’s sensitive portrait of Brontë is an unconventional biopic in that it captures the Victorian era with modern insights and is an impressive directorial debut.
The film stars Emma Mackey [Sex Education, TV series (2019-2021), Death on the Nile (2022)] as Emily, a rebel and misfit, as she finds her voice and writes the literary classic Wuthering Heights. Emily also explores the relationships that inspired her – her rough, passionate sisterhood with Charlotte [Alexandra Dowling – The Musketeers (2014)] and Anne [Amelia Gething – The Spanish Princess (2020)]; her first raw, forbidden love for Weightman [Oliver Jackson-Cohen –The Lost Daughter (2021), The Haunting of Bly Manor, TV series (2020)] and her care for her maverick brother, Branwell [Fionn Whitehead – The Duke (2020), Dunkirk (2017)] whom she idolises.
The film also stars Adrian Dunbar [Line of Duty TV series (2012-2021)] as Emily’s curate father and Gemma Jones [Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016), Gentleman Jack, TV series (2019-2022)] as an aunt.
Frances O’Connor’s original screenplay imagines the transformative, exhilarating, and uplifting journey to womanhood of a rebel and a misfit, one of the world’s most famous, enigmatic, and provocative writers who died too soon at the age of 30 from tuberculosis.
An evocative score from Abel Korzeniowski and the muted palette of cinematographer Nanu Segal create a convincing atmosphere for the period.
Emily (Emma Mackey) has mercurial moods and wears a mask metaphorically and in some scenes physically.
The film covers the years leading up to Brontë writing her famous novel, Wuthering Heights which is about cruel and haunted characters who play devastating games with love and social status. Mackey’s Brontë often looks morose or unhappy in her surroundings. She often escapes to private spaces or simply into her own head. The outcast in her family, she is both berated and neglected by her father (Adrian Dunbar), a widower and parish priest. He showers all his favour on Brontë’s older sister Charlotte and older brother Branwell, whose wayward behaviour frequently demands special attention from the patriarch.
Emily is an intriguing and thrilling approach to Brontë’s internal life. It explores major themes such as gender, independence, creativity, mental health and sexuality and provides insights into her too short life and elements which may have contributed to her major Gothic literary romantic novel.
Images courtesy of: Warner Bros