GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL’S NEW FILM EMA IS NOW FREE TO WATCH

The film directed by Pablo Larraín tells the electrifying tale of a couple in the wake of a mistaken adoption.

By Balthazar Malevolent

GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL’S NEW FILM EMA IS NOW FREE TO WATCH

Bernal's new film, Ema, by the Chilean director Pablo Larraín – whose previous work includes films The Club, No and Naruda, as well as the three-time Academy Award nominated Jackie, Larraín's English-language debut – was set to be released in the cinemas this month, distributed by the streaming platform MUBI, but then, there was the coronavirus outbreak. Cinemas around the world shuttered immediately, with no hint of when they will open their doors again or "if" in the case of independent cinemas. Now, Ema, first shown as part of last year's Venice Film Festival, held a free virtual premiere on MUBI, before being available to members of the network to view for the next month (in support of cinemas, MUBI has launched a campaign to support the BFI Fan Covid-19 Resilience Project, which will bring relief to film exhibitors in the UK).

A still from Bernal's new film Ema by the Chilean director Pablo Larraín with Mariana Di Girolamo as Ema

The film is set in the Chilian port of Valparaíso, the home country of Larrain, and tells the storyof the relationship between Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) and her husband Gastón, played by Bernal, in the wake of a gone away adoption. She is a pretty peroxide-blonde dancer and a dance coach, seduced by reggaeton's bacchanalian sexual urges, the music that reverberates across the tower-block courtyards of the city; he is an older, cold-blooded choreographer, member of the contemporary dance company Ema is a part of, whose work attempts to recreate the authenticity of Chilean folk dance with arty, installation-like performances.

The restive Ema is the beating heart of the film, played in a revelatory breakout performance by Di Girolamo with ferocious resolve. Her Ema is a shapeshifter: in turns subtle and ruthless, playful and seductive, from behind an inscrutable eye, playing off the men and women in her life. “It was fascinating to meet somebody that I hadn’t worked with before and knew nothing about,” says Bernal about working with Di Girolamo. “She’s very mature, she’s very artistic, and generous, and patient. She’s one of the people I’ve most enjoyed working with. Whatever I threw at her – even literally, because there are scenes where we are fighting – she would dodge it, or catch it.”

Bernal new film Ema by the Chilean director Pablo Larraín with Mariana Di Girolamo as Ema - Film Festival

Ema is available to watch on MUBI, for free for members from May 2 in the UK and the US/Canada, and multiple other countries for thirty days.

A trailer of Bernal's new film Ema by the Chilean director Pablo Larraín with Mariana Di Girolamo as Ema

Mariana Di Girolamo's character (Ema), strange as it may appear, reminded us of Victoria Beckham when the latter appeared in "A Nice Day for a Posh Wedding", which was the 7th episode of "Ugly Betty", a dramedy shown on the American television in 2007.

If you have any comments or ideas about who Ema reminds you of, or if you would like to participate and engage yourself with this issue, please do not hesitate to write to us about it. 

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