Date Showing Showing On 11, 13, 14, October
Time Showing Monday 6pm, Wednesday 4pm and Thursday 6pm


MA15+ 1hrs 47mins
drama | 2019, Chile | Spanish

Ema is a magnetic and impulsive dancer in a reggaeton troupe. Her toxic marriage to choreographer Gastón is beyond repair, following a decision to give up on their adopted child Polo. She sets out on a mission to get him back, not caring who she’ll need to fight, seduce or destroy to make it happen.


Strong Sex Scenes, Coarse Language

Pablo Larraín
Original Review
Luke Goodsell, ABC Arts
Extracted By
Mark Horner
Mariana Di Girólamo, Gael García Bernal, Santiago Cabrera

Watch The Trailer

Ema (2019) | Trailer | Mariana Di Girolamo | Gael García Bernal | Santiago Cabrera

Storyline (warning: spoilers)

In Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín's new drama Ema, dance becomes a liberating force for

chaos and change, pushing against established notions of art, family and gender – in the shape
of his magnetic, platinum-haired star Mariana Di Girólamo. She's Ema, the lead performer in a
contemporary dance company based in the Chilean port city of Valparaíso: acid wash denim
and sweatpants by day, bodysuits and expressive synchronicity by night.
The dance troupe – choreographed by her lover, Gastón (Gael García Bernal) – moves in
silhouette against a pulsing, blood red sun, while Nicolás Jaar's uneasy soundscape suggests
imminent emotional rupture. Sure enough, Ema's relationship with the 12-years-older Gastón is
falling apart. He's infertile, so they adopted a troubled young Colombian boy, Polo (Cristián
Suárez), only to give him away after he sets the family home (and Ema's sister) on fire. Larraín
and his regular cinematographer Sergio Armstrong concoct a rich, multi-coloured visual
landscape that seems to take place inside a mood ring, moving from reds and purples to Vertigo
greens that capture the excitement of a world in constant, uncertain flux. As Ema, Di Girólamo
is a force, enigmatic yet explosive, and she seems to channel a society's changing ideas about
family. The film is full of questions about the gendered, maternal demands placed on women in
a world where men still regard women as mothers and wives, and say things like: "With this
woman… I'll start a civilisation."
There are also implied critiques of class and colonisation, where Venezuelan and Columbian
kids are seen as an unadoptable underclass, street dancing remains the language of the poor,
and a 'tourist' artist – Bernal's Gastón – is beholden to European ideas of performance. If the
film can steer a little too easily into a "diverse families" narrative, then Larraín leaves a door
open – greased with a conspiratorial glance and a dash of gasoline – that reminds us that
change is the only constant. After all, one generation's new ideas about love and family
become the established norm for the next to tear down.

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