"The Truth About Emanuel" isn't that she murdered her mother, as she claims in the film's opening voice-over — a literary monologue that strikes too coarse a tone for the psychological nuances to come. Rather, her mom died in childbirth, adding a sad and bitter layer to her birthday cake each year.
As the 18th anniversary approaches, and with an eager new stepmom in the house, Emanuel (
The usually prickly Emanuel quickly volunteers to babysit for Linda (
For all the emotions roiling inside Emanuel (and Linda too, it turns out), her supporting cast is disappointingly flat: Her dad (Alfred Molina) is unfailingly caring, her stepmother (
But tackling the pain of motherhood and guilt of daughterhood, writer-director Francesca Gregorini builds unbearable tension into scenes that otherwise risk tilting toward melodrama and brings the eye of a fashion photographer to the film's hallucinatory dream sequences.
"The Truth About Emanuel."
MPAA rating: none.
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle Royal, Los Angeles; Los Feliz 3 Cinemas, Los Angeles. Also on VOD.