Pablo Larran was fired a long time ago, but in 2016, after directing two films, Jackie and Neruda, two deconstructed bio-streams in audiovisual poetry, he is even more introverted with his elements of fiction that dare to challenge history and truth, politics and rebellion. He has a certain flash in his hands, in which everything he touches sparks in a calm and sensational fire, and his audience is fascinated by the idea that he will be burned if he even sees one of his works, but he embraces every spirit and every body that dares to approach him with warmth, such warmth can only be obtained by telling the truth and accepting the truth of life, whether good or bad. The legacy of his work overlaps with the characters he created from scratch, from the dark and flying Raoul Peralta in Tony Manero to the broken and desperate Jackie Kennedy-Onassis in Jackie, breathing in the flaws and imperfections that complete his true face. These early characters are shrouded in mystery, just as the unmistakable biographies find meaning in what they do, and end with a mystery that is never really revealed. And Ema, a series of controlled chaos born out of the anger and anger of another protagonist of the same name who is not controlled at all (or at least chose not to control her actions), is no different; rather, it is the culmination of all of Larran’s cinematic creations, but darker and more apocalyptic.

Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019) Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019)

The film starts with the episodes: The rotting couple Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Emma (Mariana di Girolamo), whose life has only been preserved thanks to their work as dancers, find another reason to quarrel, perhaps because they were killed and burned in the past: His adopted son Polo, whose presence is almost invisible in the film, returns to the orphanage because he is more than he allows. In the end, anyone in a good mood would be scared (which is actually minimized) if they found out that their child burned a woman’s face and killed someone’s cat by putting it in the freezer. But this isn’t a fairy tale about Khachadurian. And sooner or later, the warm traces that rival all the seas of fire and spit in the Second World War reveal their broken selves, only to further sever the ties that bind them together.

Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019) Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019)

Of those, Emma was the most affected. Accidents and feelings of guilt crawl under her skin and hurt what remains of her inner peace (which she barely has). It goes without saying that this is not a film about the Reformation, about changing one’s own shortcomings according to a form that society has constructed to be a woman and, in Emma’s case, a matriarch. On the contrary, the film escapes logic by leading its inflammatory leadership into dizzying anarchy and revolution, and rebels against itself and society through a dance that rhythmically connects to the sinister score of Nicholas Yaar, reminiscent of Noah’s other hells like Climax. Anger and sound mingle with the same intensity as the verbal battles between Gaston and Emma, nourishing the carnal desires of a woman who has been ignited by none other than herself. She is on her way to freedom, perhaps in the hope that she can teach many people what she is trying to find. However, his path to freedom is difficult, especially when he is barely rooted. Neither his partner, child, parents, nor child protection. The only thing that keeps them intact, an inch away from removing the loops that keep them on earth, is their brotherhood, the bond that fuels their fire to grow and reach heaven.

Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019) Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019)

The film differs from the usual Larran, it is fixated on the past and its lasting effect on the present, because it bypasses the present generation and focuses on the present moment, giving it a more recognizable and contemporary sensitivity. Nevertheless, the past remains present to analyse the two characters and investigate how their decisions, behaviour and actions catalyze their eventual identity. It’s almost like the tours that are part of the journey: someone comes to a place and learns what it was and how it came to be; and while what attracts your attention, it’s the beauty (or the ruins, as the case may be) that can be found in modern architecture. We have an idea who Gaston and Em were, what kind of people they were. But we should never keep it to them, on the contrary, we have the chance to see them turn into the wonderful disasters they eventually become.

Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019) Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019)

Immediately attracted by the mysticism that surrounds the dynamic composition of the film; so much movement of the living and the undead, as if every nuance and every detail comes to life, and in every aspect there is something to say about Gaston and Aimee, the most dynamic of which are the elements of fire and dance. With fire one understands immediately, although at first glance, Emma’s electric presence and fiery personality. Anyone who dares to approach it must prepare mentally to be destroyed and reduced to ashes. It never stops burning, shining and attracting the attention of the public. With the help of the dance she can free herself and find her true identity. The film uses reggaeton not only as ordinary music in the set, but also because the politics associated with this type of dance exceeds expectations because it is never one genre; on the contrary, it is the polymerization of many others that is welcomed by the masses as a revolutionary work. By combining these elements, Marianne di Girolamo becomes the wheel of Apollo, the star monster, and pulls everyone, including her husband, into her attraction so that they can turn around and stand behind her.

Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019) Still from EEA, Pablo Larren (2019)

This year the EMA joins the series Philadelphia Film Festival.

Or maybe Emma’s journey is her way of finding the courage to lift her middle fingers to heaven for those who made her feel at home. It is possible to leave out the statement that her femininity doesn’t fight with a man who with his capacities looks (almost) like half a man or messes with other people, her frame goes right behind her and completes her psychosexual awakening. It is possible that his emotions, despair and sadness are one with the rhythm and his gentle movements speak for themselves. Perhaps to create a new normality about being a sister, a friend, a daughter, a wife, a dancer and above all a mother. Larran pretends to be bound by restrictions imposed ironically by the people themselves. These are the people who try to recognize the truth and transform the truth into a force that makes it possible to liberate oneself and become a completely imperfect version of oneself.

The film frees you from a trance, a kind of silent hypnosis that leaves you breathless and rises into the air. They’ll never cheer for any of the characters, but that’s the point: Will people ever cheer us on when we’re really, really broken? Anarchy is not an unknown concept in the film, and with what Larren has created, there are moments when we recall the logic of Nocturba: that there are people – especially young people – who question their place in the world, who turn to acts of violence and terror to determine their existence and discover their vulnerability. And if Bertrand Bonello’s universe exists far, far away from Larran’s universe, or Emma in particular, that doesn’t mean he can’t live with those teenagers who dared to wreak havoc in Paris. Somewhere out there, an Emma is waiting to be born or discovered. If we cannot avoid creating a cruel world in which she will exist and where she can feel free to give meaning to her life, to make her what she should be, there will be cycles of chaos and madness. The members of this world will be forced to live their daily lives in anger and rage until they take matters into their own hands. And it’s true.


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