When someone says the words ‘art film,’ something like EMA should come to mind: A colourful, arresting visual aesthetic, freewheeling sequences in which dance substitutes dialogue, and a constant sense of unabated sensuality.
The film is a psychodrama about the eponymous character, a contemporary dancer, reckoning with both her divorce from the director of her dance company and the pyromaniacal adopted child that she and him recently returned to the orphanage.
Directed by Chilean auteur Pablo Larraín in his follow-up to 2016’s chilling Jackie, the best way to describe EMA would be to call it kinetic – though occasionally too much for its own good.
Music and movement fill the frame, which is more often than not affixed to EMA as she engages in an odyssey of affairs, intricate reggaeton dance routines, and wielding a flamethrower several times.
It’s a challenging watch at first, but by the halfway point, Larraín has firmly established the electric ambience of a story that carries potent ideas on marriage, motherhood, and artistic expression. Repeated viewings would be rewarding.
Reviewed by Patrick McKenzie