Emile (2003)

June 15, 2008 § Leave a comment

After forty years in England, a man returns to reconnect with the family in Canada he feels he abandoned, and in a sense, betrayed. Given this fairly simple plot, viewers should expect a slow moving film that can drag a little. Matters aren’t helped by a tendency to show characters walking in slow motion, or staring sadly into space.

What helps immensely is a great performance from Ian McKellen as the central character Emile, and a strong supporting cast of Canadian actors. There are also some well-written moments to be found here, and the film looks impressive considering the limited budget (the only time the lack of budget hurts the film is in an early scene, when Emile is leaving for Canada and has a brief exchange with another actor who isn’t English and doesn’t attempt the accent, making it obvious the scene was shot in Canada).

McKellen is so charming and kind as Emile that it almost makes forgiving him a non-issue to the viewer. And a few things go unexplained, such as why one of his brothers (seen in flashbacks) is so difficult, and exactly why Emile stayed away so long. But even if the film could have been a little more explicit, it stands as an enjoyable, if not overly memorable meditation on change and loss, regret and forgiveness.

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