Friday, November 12, 2004

I Am Emma

(Fransesco Falashci, dir)

I'm a little worried that this movie glamorises mental illness, but that reservation apart, this was a brilliant, sharp movie. Emma is a successful doctor and councillor. Unknown to her husband of three years, she is a manic-depressive, an illness she keeps under control with Lithium. Until, that is, she is away from home for the weekend, at her father's old castle, helping to prepare for her old friend Marta's wedding. Somehow, she is seperated from her supply of Lithium (this was a little confusing, as it seemed to be a hop skip and a jump between where she was spending the weekend and where she lived, so getting a new supply did not appear to be beyond the bounds of possibility).

Anyway, she has no lithium and this naturally shows up pretty quickly in her moods - we get to see her pretty much at manic speed, rather than depressive, with a compulsive need for truth telling - first demonstrated when she hijacks the eulogy for the town's respected doctor. She doesn't speak ill of the dead so much as accuse the townsfolk of not being deserving of such a man in their midst. Of course, this is Italian popular cinema, so she is pretty much guaranteed to be charming, even if she causes a little havoc along the way. The main victim is Daniele, Marta's intended - he is completely fixated on his E-Type jaguar, that's about the only thing we learn about him. Emma takes it for a spin, and in her impatience to get through a railway crossing, prangs it.

Another victim is her own husband, Roberto, who she learns is having an affair with Elisa, a rather nice young lady. Emma makes friends with Elisa, and pushes her to test her married boyfriend, Roberto, to see if there's any commitment there. This actually works out nicely for all concerned - it turns out that Roberto thought that Emma was dull as ditch water, not knowing that was caused by the lithium, and getting to know the real Emma, falls for her properly. The same goes for her dad - there are several touching moments involving these two - the night she explodes at everyone, he's pretty much in despair, but then they have some bonding moments, they re-connect and can have a real relationship. There's a great scene where her truth-telling comes in handy, as dad has been beating himself up over his wife's departure, thinking that Emma has been blaming him. When he learns that is not so, he is unblocked and can get on with his life, make a successful relationship finally.

Of course, the wedding hangs over everything and it becomes increasingly obvious that Daniele is a bit of a dork, that there isn't much real between him and Marta. But several years ago, thanks to some of the mis-communication that is meat and drink to a romantic comedy like this, it turns out that Marta and her boyfriend of the time, Carlo got their wires crossed and went off in pursuit of other partners. Carlo is another of Emma's old friends (and there are a couple of cute scenes involving his novels which are so bad they send everyone to sleep - even himself it seems - so dad can use one to calm Emma when she gets too hyper) so is around all the time. Emma finds a letter she was supposed to give to Carlo, from Marta, arranging to meet. Since Carlo never turned up, Marta has been angry with him ever since, and he's never known why. So, here's a situation calling for resolution, neatly achieved by Emma "forgetting" to collect them to go to Marta's wedding.


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