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Emily (Home Entertainment Review)

3 min read

The world of the Bronte siblings has been depicted on screen before, usually in the straight forward way a biopic is presented. Focusing on their early lives briefly, then on to their writing and ultimately their success. But while all the Bronte siblings feature here, it is Emily who takes centre stage. More often than not, she has been portrayed as the sickly shy recluse with the wild imagination that created one of the most famous novels in British history. But in Frances O'Connor's directing debut, , she is wilful, adventurous in her own way and passionate beyond recognition, even in the restrictive life she is forced to lead. Emily brings a completely new and fantastic view of the author and her work.

Emily has always been quiet, forever looking at her feet and dislikes meeting new people. She writes poetry in secret and enjoys storytelling with her sisters who soon grow out of the fantasies she weaves. Seen by others as the ‘strange' sister, she at first resents being different yet embraces this title. After failing to take up a post teaching alongside her elder and younger sisters, Emily is forced to take unwanted, at first, French lessons from the new curate William Weightman in the village. But something stirs within her and eventually a passion is unleashed that neither of them can ignore. Love, heartache and sadness fuel Emily and eventually pours out onto the page into her novel, Wuthering Heights.

Biopics about authors sometimes have a tendency to imitate the author's work instead of just including images that feature. This ties a thread to the work to come. With Emily, there are indeed visuals that could be emulated in her one and only novel but aren't so apparent that they over take her story. The film focuses on Emily's life before she writes her novel and rarely on the shared events with her sisters. Emily is given the opportunity to stand out and away from her family, even Branwell who she shared a rebellious spirit with. Her poetry is used to ignite a passion, in herself and in Weightman, the curate who seems fascinated and frustrated by her. This passionate affair that ends in heart wrenching pain, manipulated by a fantastic choice of shots, is a catalyst for the answer to Charlotte's question at the start of the film. However, Emily is far more than heartbreak as shown during a parlour game where she embodies her deceased mother. It's a torturous scene but also shows another side to Emily. Emily wrote about passion and pain and this is how it was imagined that she was able to write such a story.

is absolutely mesmerising. Mackey completely embodies Emily, heart and soul. She embraces all that Emily is, not the revered writer but as someone is always on the verge of emotional toil which seems to have plagued Emily throughout her short life.

Director Frances O'Conner's eye for strained dramatic moments, those that heighten the tension in the scenes, making us feel exactly like the characters on screen. The anticipation is felt, the heartbreak and sorrow all burrow beneath our skin. All this is quite unexpected and elating, even though there are some devastating moments. O'Conner has created a biopic that stretches beyond what we know of Emily Bronte as well as what we might predict, exceeding expectations. Emily is a film that might seem like others of the same genre or even that of the adaptations of Bronte's work, but it set itself apart with wild tenderness, a brilliant cast and fascinating woman at the centre.

Emily is available now to buy and rent across all digital platforms