«Ema», fade fatale – Culture / Next

We don’t really know what Pablo Larraín is dancing on. Throughout an already dense and heterogeneous filmography, the Chilean filmmaker became interested in the history of his country (Santiago 73, No), its culture and its star (Neruda) and an American celebrity (Natalie Portman in Jackie). Here with Mom, above all, he seems to want to do battle with a complicated story and radical emotions. A contemporary dancer and her husband and choreographer (Gael García Bernal, the filmmaker’s loyal actor) adopted a child and finally “returned” him to social services in Valparaíso, following his violent behavior.


Through a deconstructed narrative, rich in flashbacks, we follow Ema’s emotional wanderings, who puts herself in all her states (trance, dread, euphoria) as she assumes her life as a queer artist, bad mother and oppressed wife. Seeking to tick the box “breathtaking” both at the plastic and narrative level, the film tries the piece of bravery in each sequence and loads the boat with everything that undoubtedly provokes a “cinema effect” – complicated shots, disproportionate reactions . And, indeed, we have the impression of attending a fairly effective sound and light show, served by very good music video dancers. But that’s not enough to make a movie that starts and progresses, and embodies the trouble. bigger than life that is supposed to feel and provoke Ema. Rather a puppet than a character, the heroine, constantly described as a woman of fire, gives everything in the dance sequences but proves trivial the rest of the time, little helped by a psychologizing scenario where all the affects are highlighted with the marker. To tell the truth, the portrait that the film draws in spite of itself is rather that of a nice lost hipster who dances well, and carries an individualistic morality in the air of the times, consisting in gradually assuming that she only lives for herself – even. The sequence that we will remember is also the one where the choreographer sets Ema and her friends on fire by destroying the reggaeton they adore and the world it symbolizes while they respond by sending it back to an outdated vision of art. .


In this joust captured in the economy in a corner of an apartment, something solid is finally said to itself, embodied in bodies and carried by voices that take the time to settle down. But the respite is short-lived and the incredible finale (Ema seduced all the members of a family to be able to keep a link with her son) finally convinces us that we were facing a bad joke rather than a contemporary melodrama.

Laura Tuillier

Mom of Pablo Larrain with Mariana Di Girólamo, Gael García Bernal, Paola Giannini… 1:42 p.m.


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