The Truth About Emanuel Blu-ray

THE TRUTH ABOUT EMANUEL is a psychological drama that is never boring, but never quite comes together. I must admit that it is one of the stranger films I’ve seen in a while.

Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario) announces in a voiceover that she killed her mother. This occurred in childbirth and Emanuel describes it in vivid detail. This is clearly an event that she hasn’t gotten over as we pick up the story as she nears her 18th birthday.

The Truth About Emanuel

Emanuel is a clever and troubled girl. She hides her pain with witty quips that I did enjoy quite a bit. She lives with her father (Alfred Molina) and her stepmother Janice (Frances O’Connor). It is evident that there is strain in the family. Emanuel has not accepted Janice into the family and Janice desperately tries to connect with the teenager.  Emanuel has an after school job at a medical supplies company and she commutes by train. On the train she meets Claude (Aneurin Barnard) and is taken by him. She is transfixed by the backpack that he carries with his name on it. Emanuel herself has a tattoo of her name on her wrist. At first it is just a minor flirtation until Emanuel ups the game by boldly declaring Claude her boyfriend before he even knows that. Now that’s a girl who knows what she wants.

The Truth About Emanuel

As her relationship with Claude begins, another one develops as well. Linda (Jessica Biel), a young mother, has moved in next door. Emanuel is instantly fascinated by her. It might be that she looks similar to her dead mother or that she’s not her stepmother. She volunteers to babysit Linda’s infant daughter. Now here comes the strange part. Emanuel discovers that Linda does not have a baby. The baby is a doll that Linda is acting like it is real. But is it a doll?

The Truth About Emanuel

For the rest of the film, you wonder if Linda or Emanuel is crazy. Emanuel has strange visions of water everywhere she goes. She brings Claude closer to her and then pushes him away. Emanuel has a connection with Linda. She’s protective of her and wants what is best for her. Emanuel doesn’t know what her eyes tell her about the baby. Her own connection with life and death with childbirth affects her in ways that wouldn’t affect others. Janice is concerned with her welfare and wants to know more about Linda. Janice sees that there might be an unhealthy attachment there. Emanuel just pushes Janice away and tries to get people not to notice the baby. I did find the cat and mouse game about the identity of the child to be intriguing. It is done deftly and with some finesse.

I liked the performance of Scodelario. She reminded me quite a bit of Kristen Stewart in appearance and with her soulful eyes. There’s a haunting quality to her here. You don’t know what she is thinking or what she will do next. That’s a plus in the film.

The Truth About Emanuel

In the end, I really couldn’t get over the fact that we were looking at a doll being bathed and dressed. I just giggled every time I saw that. This could have been rectified if the payoff at the end made it worth this silliness. It did not. I expected more of a thriller here. All of the pieces just did not add up. For instance, what is with all the water? The director explains in an interview on the Blu-ray that water represents death. Ok that explains it. Actually it doesn’t.

THE TRUTH ABOUT EMANUEL had the pieces of a good film, but the pieces didn’t fit. You may never look at dolls the same though.

THE TRUTH ABOUT EMANUEL BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: Some of the scenes were a bit too dark for my liking. The blues really stand out on screen in the many water scenes.

Audio: The sound was adequate. I did have to use the closed captioning a few times when the actors mumbled their lines.

Interview with Director Francesca Gregorini (4:02): The director discusses the casting of the two female leads. She also talks about the water scenes and the challenges they presented.

Outtakes (.46): This is a very short segment of goofs.

Deleted Scenes: There are seven of them in all. It establishes more of Emanuel’s personality and her keen sense of humor. These scenes would have made the movie better.

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