11 September 2019 | Raven-1969
A traffic light burns late at night in Valparaiso. This strange opening scene sets an unusual and colorful tone for the rest of Ema. Gradually it is understood how the light caught fire. Mysterious undercurrents and unusual passions swirl in human hearts. Dialogue, setting, music, dance scenes and characters follow similar rhythms and are typified most by Ema herself. She is a ball of fire. Energetic, devious and unpredictable, she prowls the streets of Valparaiso seeking sparks to reignite her damaged marriage, abandonment of her adopted son, struggling dance career and volatile self.
Sometimes there is no script. This is true in acting as well as life. According to Pablo Larrain at the Toronto international film festival, the actors received plot cues only at the last minute. Fluidity and dynamism were the results. The actors explored a new language. Traditional boundaries were also pushed with sexuality, family, the atmospheric and hypnotic music, dance and more. The film toys with notions of what is feminine and masculine. Mariana di Girolamo (Ema) is perfect for the role. Gael Garcia Bernal (Ema's hubby Gaston) is reunited with Pablo Larrain (nominated for three Oscars for the film Jackie). While I prefer thought and depth to the dialogue, the non-scripted acting achieves some intriguing results. The Valparaiso scenery is as thrilling as Mariana di Girolamo.