In Ema, Director Pablo Lorraín delivers a confusing and frivolous drama that will be challenging to watch for many audiences. Ema has a unique setup, but it is a mix of weird music, unexplained conflicts, and a situation gone awry that is just a mess. I found myself intrigued with fragments of this Spanish language film, but I was also consistently lost with the plot.
Ema is set in the port city of Valparaiso, Chile. The film focuses on Ema, played by Mariana Di Girolamo, and Gaston, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, a couple who are on harsh terms after an adoption that fell through. Ema is a dancer and she takes a break from Gaston to recuperate after the failed adoption, but she is not recuperating in the healthiest ways. She ends up in a spiral of affairs and she falls in with the wrong crowd.
Where I became lost with Ema was its screenplay. Often, the conversations just did not add up or did not feel realistic. The scoring, the lighting and the cinematography were fine, but the screenplay lacked realism. The film seemed to be trying to present a haunting view with some weird technological tricks and music, and there were some positive moments, but those were brief.
As for Bernal, his talent and emotion does show through at times, but this was probably my least favorite film that he has starred in. Amores Perros (2000), The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), and Rosewater (2014) were all brilliant films, but Ema is just average, despite Bernal’s emotional acting.
I will admit that I did not have the highest expectations for Ema and, again, there were some positives. But this is a film that I will give just two stars.