Arson and Olés.
EMA starts with the startling image of a burning traffic light and ends with an enigmatic shot of an eponymous character buying a can of petrol.
Fire and its fuelling is a constant image in EMA, perhaps a euphemism.
Ema is a bi polar bisexual pyro twerker, member of a dance troupe in Chile, married to a much older choreographer. His dud vas ducts lead them to adopt. Then to abandon. And finally to abduct.
This film plays with fire both literally and emotionally. It is hard to warm to what appears an ice cold act – the giving back of a child to an orphanage like an unwanted Christmas kitten or puppy.
But as the narrative smoulders, we get to see more clearly the smoke signals of distress. The fires that fuelled her marriage are all but extinguished and her professional connection to her choreographer spouse is but a dying ember.
Ema finds an accelerant in selfishness, ditching tradition, exploring her sexuality, ironically hooking up with a firefighter for an intrinsic bit of intercourse.
Mariana Di Girolamo plays Ema with a fiery gusto and incandescent core, a platinum haired pop-punk pyromaniac who pines parenthood, is petrified of it, and finally finds the kindling point for positively providing for a kid.
Gael Garcia Bernal plays Gaston, her older husband, around whose orbit, both personal and professional, has lost its gravitational pull.
Sumptuously shot in the Chilean seaport town of Valparaiso, EMA celebrates that locale’s striking architectural and natural beauty, its funiculars, cobbled alleys and riotously coloured buildings.
Directed by Pablo Larrain, EMA is an incendiary film that torches expectation and tradition, a blazing, searing drama that gives rise to the phoenix of the “new normal” rising from the ashes.