Bringing a baby into the world is a task which takes the utmost commitment and responsibility – primarily from the mother herself, but also from those around her. The sad reality in our world is that much too often, the necessary conditions do not exist – perhaps coming from a lack of stability, poverty or a very early age for the onset of motherhood. ‘Emmi’, a film which bears the main character’s name, showcases such a circumstance.
Emmi is a teenage girl living alongside her mother in a high-rise apartment block situated in the poor district of an English town. She seems to skip school rather regularly, to the disappointment of her mother, but her rebellious attitude and lack of openness through any communication channels seem to stem from something else. She winces upon hearing that her uncle will be visiting them, and has to contend with intense pain on a regular basis – her mother, however, fails to notice any of these warning signals, despite her willingness to do right by her daughter. Ultimately, it is her downstairs neighbour that seems to better understand her situation and show her some sympathy, but this might be too little too late for Emmi.
The dark theme explored in ‘Emmi’ is adequately showcased from a stylistic point of view. The director utilises a high number of facial close-up shots in order to best capture feelings and emotions – as most of the ‘communication’ is done this way, with the dialogues overwhelmingly failing to communicate what characters really feel. This is far from being a criticism of the film – it is a feature that reveals the defective communication channels which involve Emmi. Similarly, in order to emphasise the seriousness of the situation and the bleak occurrences, little to no music accompanies the happenings.
‘Emmi’ delivers a very simple yet thoroughly suggestive story. Emmi behaves in a cold, rebellious manner towards everybody, and yet we observe, at one point, a souvenir of the girl’s happier days. Equally, it is very important to note her care and gentleness for the cat which she frequently pets and caresses, while also taking into account the reason why she cannot keep a pet herself. These small details are not without meaning – neither is the intro sequence featuring the neighbour, which might initially seem irrelevant – everything has a purpose and delivers its own message.
Unfortunately, ‘Emmi’ remains a bit too bland and uninspired to really stand out. The choice of elements and personalities is rather ordinary for this kind of subject, and while the acting, plot and cinematography are all good, there’s nothing really spectacular about the project. Andrew Carslaw’s film does manage to emphasise a cruel and unfortunate reality but achieves little else.