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  • The story takes place in 1972, city of Kaunas, former Socialist Republic of Lithuania (now just Lithuania). The events coincide with famous self-immolation of dissident Romas Kalanta, which really took place and was hidden from wider public until the collapse of Soviet Union. The main plot however is fictional and centers on a group of young theater actors determined to show a play which contains not so subtle patriotic messages to free the country.

    We, Lithuanians, seem to really like making sad books and movies, full of internal drama - and this is a good example. Staying true to this tradition, there is not a single comic relief in this 2 hour length feature film. However if you look closely, you would notice that the entire underlying system (Soviet rule) was a joke.

    Western depictions often tend to show Soviet Union (and now Russia) in some sort of romantic light. The truth is that there was nothing romantic about it, ever. It was a system designed to rape people of their humanity and to propagate for no apparent reason. Emilia's movie tries to evoke this feeling by showing insane evil guys chasing a poor defenseless girl. It certainly adds to drama, but is not very realistic. Actual circumstances of the times were a lot more bleak and boring. I wish this feature would have taken a more subtle approach, showing the faceless and constant self-betrayal of values that really drove the people insane.

    In Lithuania we do not have a big movie industry, therefore most of the actors came straight from the theater stage. This is very apparent, as most of the performances are static. Same expressions, limited movements, long monologues. These are not necessary bad, but probably quite different from what you're accustomed to in cinema. Luckily some awkwardness is offset by the fine work of operator - we can enjoy some good character angles and beautiful scenes of Kaunas city.

    Overall this movie is not an Oscar material, but it has some unique flavor, which sets it apart. It reminded me the value of individual and social freedom, something that most people, even who know nothing of the events depicted, can still relate to. Therefore a recommended watch.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Emilija (or "Emilija iš Laisvės Alėjos") is a movie about a young girl, who wants to be an aspiring theatre actress in the socialist Lithuania in the beginning of the eighties. All she has with her is the poems her father "left" her, which inspire her to "swim at the wrong direction of the river" so to speak. As much to the horror of the census committee of that time.

    While the movie is primarily based on theatre life, but also the viewer is introduced with the spirit of freedom dwelling in the underground sections of socialist Lithuania at that time. Although, the movie tends to be serious about its topics, but overall, it is not. And it's a good thing, because even the most jaded of Lithuanians, who do not like our countries movies (and some have good reasons for it), wouldn't mind seeing this movie, because it is made for the masses.

    That being said, at times the movie tries too hard to portray what was it like while living under the USSR rule in Lithuania. And for this reason some of the scenes are hard to believe for me (e.g. the scene at the insane asylum, the director being deported to Syberia) As the fat police inspector said to one of the antagonists in the movie: "What do you think you are doing? Do you think this is 1950 still? You're on your own from now on".

    Although, props for the plot-twist at the end. I personally liked it how the main antagonist was tied-in with Emilija's history.

    Overall, in my honest opinion, at least for the moment, this is one of the best Lithuanian movies out there for the masses. And, if for some reason, this movie's distribution will reach abroad and it will have subtitles, then I recommend watching it. Although, maybe, you will be put off by the theatre acting (as one reviewer said here), but this is understandable, because we do not have a movie industry here at all.
  • Edvis-199731 March 2018
    As Kung Fu Panda(Po) would say: That was aweeeeeeeesome!