Emily – Film Review

It would be an understatement to say Felicity Jones is having a pretty good year. After opening 2015 with an Oscar-nomination for The Theory of Everything, she has since landed lead roles in two of the world’s biggest franchises: starring alongside Tom Hanks in Ron Howard’s third Dan Brown-adaptation, Inferno, and heading a mission to steal the Death Star plans in Rogue One, a spinoff film from some space-thing called Star Wars. You probably haven’t heard of it.

In between all that, Jones has somehow found the time to make Emily, a beautifully imagined short film from writer-director Caroline Harvey that is in stark contrast to the above blockbusters, exploring gender politics, sexuality and lust with tenderness and a superb lightness of touch.

Jones plays the Emily of the title, a young woman living in contemporary London who, having recently split from her boyfriend of seven years, impulsively attempts to quell her loneliness by exploring her sexual fantasies in an encounter with Christopher Ecclestone’s handsome stranger, James.

Born from a place of frustration over the way in which women are portrayed on screen, Emily boldly puts its eponymous protagonist in the driving seat as she is the one who first approaches James and then relentlessly attempts to convince him to come home with her.

Ecclestone imbues his character with a certain nervy charm, but it’s Jones who really stands out with a mesmerising performance, making Emily confident yet uncomfortable, intelligent yet awkward. These conflicting traits make her motivations and actions hard to pin-down and understand, which, you imagine, is exactly how Harvey likes her characters, allowing them to remain mysterious in a way that feels natural and real rather than shamelessly teasing.

With such delicate performances and Harvey’s elegant direction, which often delights in exposing the minutiae of attraction, Emily is a stunning short that gently and deftly explores the ways in which impulsive encounters can heal as well as damage us. Marvellous.

You can watch Emily here – you really won’t regret it.

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