My introduction to one of my favorite films and book author was naturally through my mother. Wuthering Heights is the ultimate love story and example of what happens to a human soul when you fall in love with the wrong person. A love that becomes so toxic along its journey where ultimately both souls refuse to exist without the other.
Having made its premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, Emily imagines Emily Brontë’s own Gothic story, the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. Haunted by the death of her mother, Emily struggles within the confines of her family life and yearns for artistic and personal freedom, and so begins a journey to channel her creative potential into one of the greatest novels of all time.
Making her feature film writng/directing debut, Frances O’Connor provides a daring, richly imagined portrait of one of the great enigmas of English fiction. O’Connor uses few facts known about Brontë as a springboard to a passionate tale about a complex, brooding individual whose emotional fragility counters her flirtatious, rebellious nature. Joining her older brother Branwell (Fionn Whitehead) in neighborhood pranks, outraging the community with unconventional behavior or embarking on a dangerous and forbidden romance, Emily courts social ostracism and family disapproval while pursuing her ultimate goal…a life devoted to writing.
Everything about this film is spot on in terms of being able to recognize traits of people from Brontë’s life that permeated the aura’s of her rich Wuthering Heights characters. As a fan of this book and its original cinematic adaptation with Sir Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon, I can confidently state that Emily is a winner!
The breadth and depth that Emma MacKey goes to in portraying Emily are delicious to witness as are her scenes with Whitehead and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as her forbidden love William Weightman. They smolder together and in scenes apart where their names are being spoken in true Heathcliff and Cathy fashion. Every cast member is spectaculary solid in their performances, but you truly can’t keep your eyes off Emma and Oliver.
Like Wuthering Heights, Emily possesses an atmosphere of something supernatural and emotional embedded in a story that is domestic and viscerally real. O’Connor stated, ” I want to express in this story what it is to be human in life as a woman; to aspire, to struggle, to evolve, and become a whole person. It is my hope that a young person watching this film, a creative in the making, will be moved to accept themselves as they are, not to be compelled to be perfect or what others wish them to be, but to connect to their own inner power.” Miss O’ Connor, mission 100% accomplished.