Wuthering Heights is widely considered to be one of the greatest novels ever written, yet not much is known about the book’s author.
Image supplied by Filmfinity
In EMILY, which opens in local cinemas on 11 November, actor-turned-writer/director Frances O’Connor attempts to remedy this by offering an imagined glimpse into the Brontë family’s lives.
This exceptional film, described by film critic Leon van Nierop as “a haunting insight into the tortured psyche of a writer”, was also recently nominated for four British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), including Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Fionn Whitehead), Best Ensemble Performance and Best Debut Director. Winners will be announced on 4 December 2022.
The film stars Emma Mackey as Emily, who is portrayed as a rebel and misfit who is wild, free and fiercely independent. It starts with a newcomer, clergyman William Weightman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), coming to the remote village of Haworth, where the Brontë family lives. His arrival disrupts proceedings and causes emotional ripples which gather momentum as the story unfolds.
The Brontë girls – Emily, Charlotte (Alexandra Dowling) and Anne (Amelia Gething) – are initially quite curious about William, but soon become dismissive. However, things start to shift when William is tasked with giving Emily French lessons, resulting in an intense and all-consuming affair. It is this forbidden and ultimately doomed love which inspired the writing of Wuthering Heights.
In addition to the relationship between Emily and William, the film explores the other relationships that shaped Emily’s life, especially her raw, passionate sisterhood with Charlotte and Anne, and her care for her maverick brother Branwell (Fionn Whitehead), whom she idolises. The film also stars Adrian Dunbar and Gemma Jones.
More broadly, EMILY is a coming-of-age story about a young woman finding herself and her authentic voice and power in the world. Starting off as a timid and shy girl seeking her father’s approval, she evolves and develops extensively over the course of the film.
EMILY is O’Connor’s directorial debut, from her own original screenplay, in which she blends historical accuracy about the Brontë’s lives with Emily’s imagined world. The film is beautifully acted, lovingly shot, and intensely imagined and takes audiences on a journey that initially might feel familiar to fans of the Brontës, but which also offers up a fresh new take on the life of one of literature’s most mysterious authors, delving deep into the psyche of Emily and those closest to her as she navigates who she really is and what she is to become.
Loosely biographical, the film focuses on the imagined life of one of the world’s most famous but mysterious authors and is a must-see for Brontë fans, Wuthering Heights aficionados, literature students, and book lovers.
EMILY is locally distributed by Filmfinity Pty (Ltd.).
THE FILM WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING CINEMAS:
Bedford Square (Johannesburg)
Cedar Square (Johannesburg)
Garden Route Mall (George)
Rosebank Nouveau (Johannesburg)
Sam Levy (Harare)
Somerset Mall (Cape Town)
Tygervalley (Cape Town)
V & A Waterfront (Cape Town)
Canal Walk (Cape Town)
Hyde Park (Johannesburg)
Menlyn Park (Pretoria)
Labia (Cape Town)
Whale Coast (Hermanus)