Emily (2022)

Emily (2022)


An eerie, Gothic delight inspired by the life and work of Emily Brontë



Australia, United Kingdom
English, French, Spanish
Drama, History, Romance
Adrian Dunbar, Alexandra Dowling, Emma Mackey
130 min


Don’t you just love when fanfic turns out to be fantastic?

What it's about

Set in 19th century England, Emily reimagines the life of the notoriously reclusive and rebellious Brontë sister.

The take

Of the three Brontë sisters—all of whom are accomplished writers in their own right—it’s Emily who remains the most enigmatic to this day. She died early and left in her wake just one work: her first and only novel, Wuthering Heights. The book shook England back then; it was rugged and sexual and violent, and the film honors that by filling the gaps in our knowledge of Brontë’s life with the excitement of her work. Emily, the film, may be historically inaccurate, but it is wildly enjoyable, even if it is pure fantasy. The cinematography is sensual and the sound production screeching; the vibe is equal parts erotic and eerie as Emily loses herself in the mysticism of the moors. It seems apt that a film about Emily leans more toward arthouse than commercial, but it’s also impressive that director Frances O'Connor is able to achieve all this while maintaining a universally romantic appeal about it.

What stands out

Without spoiling anything, there is a pivotal scene early in the film that sets the tone in a satisfying way. It involves a mask and a remarkably haunting performance by Emma Mackey, who proves here that she’s well on her way to stardom. Prior to the scene in question, Emily looks like it could just be another period film (that is: utterly genteel), but after this horror-esque scene, it’s clear that Emily was always meant to exist in the same thorny, Gothic realm that Wuthering Heights lives in. In other hands, this scene could have been weak, gimmicky even, but thanks to O’Connor and Mackey’s commitment to pulling it off, it works and adds to the film’s overall terrifying charm.

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