Review: ‘The Truth About Emanuel’ Starring Kaya Scodelario and Jessica Biel

the-truth-about-emanuel-posterThe Truth About Emanuel, writer/director’s Francesca Gregorini sophomore effort, is a puzzling sort of film. Not in a bad way but also not in the best of ways either.

Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario from the U.K.’s Skins) is seventeen years old and thinks she’s not supposed to be here, as in alive. She’s walking around with the guilt of her mother dying while giving birth to her and she’s carrying this notion that she’s a “murderer.” That’s heavy stuff for a young girl to deal with and as the story begins, she’s in full-on ‘acting out’ mode, Not in the rebellious sense, more of a shock value sense (like telling her step-mother about a recent sex dream.)

When the new neighbor, single mother Linda (Jessica Biel), says she’s looking for a babysitter, Emanuel agrees to help out. Linda’s a doting and protective mother who seems a bit off. She wears long flowing dresses and non-period clothes and always has a faraway look in her eyes.

We quickly find out the reason why she seems so odd: Her baby isn’t real. It’s a doll.

Emaunel’s discovery of the fake baby doesn’t push her away from Linda though; it brings her closer and makes her more protective. She makes huge efforts to always get in the way every time Linda might show off the baby to someone.

Is the reason she’s doing this because Emaunel is a bit off as well? She’s randomly seeing things that aren’t there. Is she damaged the way Linda is? Is that the truth about Emanuel?

Unfortunately, the truth isn’t all that interesting. I kept waiting for some ‘a-ha’ moment in her story but it never arrived. The real truth lies in Linda and why she’s caring for a doll-baby. And when we find that out, that’s the best moment of the film.

The film starts off great; a psychological drama that seems to be adding the building blocks of its story in perfect place. As the film unfolds though, we begin to realize that the story isn’t as deep as we think it’s going to be and the easily wrapped up ending disappoints.

The performances are all fine. Scodelario and Biel work wonders with some of the stilted and clichéd dialogue and it was nice to see Biel in a role she doesn’t usually get to play. Her moments after the baby reveal are quite good. Alfred Molina, as Emanuel’s put upon father, is always a joy to watch. He took a character that we’ve seen hundreds of times and made it solely his own.

Gregorini’s story about loss and how people deal with it is like an English language foreign film. The way it feels and its style and story reminded me of late 1970’s French films I watched back in college. Not that that is a bad thing. In fact, it made it more interesting. I’d love to see what she does next because she’s definitely an original voice.

The Truth About Emanuel opens at the Reading Gaslamp 15 Friday, January 10th.

It is also opening in the cities below:

New York: Village East – opens January 10
Los Angeles: Los Feliz 3 and the Royal
San Diego, CA: Gaslamp – opens January 10
Phoenix, AZ: Shea 14 – opens January 10
Miami: Shea 14 – opens January 10
Phoenix, AZ: Sunset Place 24 – opens January 10
Denver: Highlands Ranch 24 – opens January 10
Dallas: Grapevine 30 – opens January 10
Houston: Gulf Pointe 30 – opens January 10
Minneapolis: Eden Prairie 18 – opens January 10
Cherry Hill, NJ: Cherry Hill 24 – opens January 10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-falling-skies-intervie.jpg
WonderCon: ‘Falling Skies’ Interview with Moon Bloodgood & Seychelle Gabriel
Moon Bloodgood and Seychelle Gabriel were at WonderCon to talk about the upcoming season of TNT’s ‘Falling Skies’. The show is the story of life and survival in the wake of a catastrophic alien invasion. Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a college professor who became an unlikely resistance leader. Bloodgood is Dr. Ann Glass, [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-dawn-of-the-planet-of.jpg
WonderCon: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Press Conference with Gary Oldman & Andy Serkis
Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis and Director Matt Reeves were at WonderCon to talk about the upcoming, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I loved the first one and can’t wait for this to come out. Serkis is terrific in everything and to watch him go to e-to-toe with Oldman will be a [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-how-to-train-your-drag.jpg
WonderCon: ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ Press Conference with Jay Baruchel
Jay Baruchel and writer/director Dean DeBlois were at WonderCon to chat about the upcoming sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2. In the press conference, they talk about the film, how Baruchel feels like he’s taken ownership of his character and a bit about his acting career. The film is in theaters June 13th.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/wondercon-sean-bean-tina-majorin.jpg
WonderCon: Sean Bean, Tina Majorino, Ali Larter & Morris Chestnut Talk ‘Legends’
The cast and executive producer of TNT’s new show, Legends held a press conference at WonderCon to talk about the show, their characters and more. Legends is based on the book by spy novelist Robert Littellon and stars Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings) as Martin Odum, an undercover agent working [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/john-turturro-narrates-a-scene-f.jpg
John Turturro Narrates a Scene from His New FIlm, ‘Fading Gigolo’
John Turturro narrates a sequence from his film, Fading Gigolo. The film, which written and directed by Turturro and stars Woody Allen, Sharon Stone and Sophia Vergara, is about how Turturro’s character falls into the becoming a gigolo, thanks to his “pimp”, played by Allen.