I have seen a lot of films and sometimes you watch something and think, ‘why was that made?” The Truth About Emanuel is one of those films. It’s not bad, it’s just that it doesn’t feel like it needs to exist.
The film follows Emanuel (Katia Scodelario), who’s just about to turn 18. She’s guilty because her mother died when she was born, she hates her stepmother (Frances O’Connor) and takes out her anger on her dad (Alfred Molina). Emanuel generally behaves like the type teenager you find in any film (usually, independent ones). However, things begin to look up when a new neighbour (Jessica Biel) movies in next door. Emanuel starts to babysit for this mysterious and charismatic lady and then…there’s a twist…which I won’t tell you about. This twist propels the rest of the movie and it kind of works, it kind of doesn’t.
The Truth About Emanuel on the surface looks good; the acting is solid and there’s nothing really bad you can say about it. It’s never going to crack a critic’s list or become someone’s favourite movie. There’s simply not enough story to sustain 90 minutes and it feels like writer/director Francesca Gregorini had a few ideas and images in her head and simply wanted to get them on screen. Sure, she has delivered a nice little family drama (although we’ve see this sort of thing before), but everything hangs on the twist. This twist should have been the last act – not something revealed in the first hour and this is what begins to make the film feel a bit ridiculous (that and the fantasy dream sequences). For a brief moment it looks like the movie might go to interesting, dark territory – but unfortunately it doesn’t.
I can’t be to harsh on The Truth About Emanuel. It employed actors and technicians, catering staff…it isn’t terrible and it doesn’t offend. I wonder if Francesca Gregorini achieved her vision? I hope she did – at least that would be something.