26 thoughts on “Emily (2022) Is More Fantasy Than Biopic

  1. In my experience, people who have no imagination find it unfathomable to imagine that other people do. Most writers make stuff up without having had personal experience in that area, so the idea of a young woman writing a passionate love story while never experiencing it herself is not unfathomable — nine times out of ten, the best love stories are purely the product of imagination. ;)

  2. “It’s about a life, that’s all. And a rich one at that”. Yes, but not Emily Brontë’s life though? I also hate the “women in the past were just as likely to have sexual affairs as those today” motif in a lot of modern films. I mean having sex in those days often resulted in . . something called pregnancy. You’d never know it by watching a lot of modern takes on the past. The costumes however look authentic! And it’s great to see Gemma Jones.

    1. I was just about to quote that line “about a life, that’s all”–as clueless as Jessica Chastain’s opinion of “Washington Square,” the novel: while preparing for the stage version, she gave an interview full of similar clunkers. (She seemed to think it was a biography and that Henry James lacked compassion for poor Catherine Sloper.) Bloody relatability. I shall skip this, although I do like that group photo.

  3. That black gown in the graveyard is an absolute corker!

    And yes, I’m so with you about not needing to have actual sexual experience to write Wuthering Heights. In fact I think W.H. is exactly the kind of novel someone would write who was crammed with libido and energy in general that had no socially-permissible outlet, who certainly knew in a very broad-brush sense about sexual intercourse because they’d seen the cockerel and the hen and the bull and the cow doing it, but had no clear idea, let alone experience, of how their feelings would translate into that act.

    1. I agree with you, Aleko. That said, it’s not beyond the pale to speculate that she might’ve had a sexual relationship, though I find it highly unlikely.

      Re this show: I’ll probably watch it. I’m in the mood for more Frock Flicks, and I this seems like it would be worth my time, especially now that I’ve been dutifully warned about its “accuracy.”

  4. Perhaps I’m wrong, but this seems somewhat PFG-ish, if you know what I mean. :)

    1. That was the first thing that sprang to my mind! I’m a Bronte devotee – my father’s family were from the Haworth area and my great-great-grandfather was baptized by Patrick Bronte – but I’ll be giving this one a miss.

    2. It’s not ludicrously soapy like PFG, thank the gods! The love affair develops somewhat plausibly, other than the sex. And the script & acting are solid as a movie.

  5. Yeah, stop with the playing fast and loose with the facts to meet your self indulgent needs and then explain it away as some sort of revelation. But also yes, the textiles in those brilliant women’s costumes are absolutely spot on!

  6. I wonder if there’s an idea in film and tv production that a historically set production won’t be financially successful unless it’s either an adaptation (of a book, etc) or about real people, and those kinds of productions get pushed forwards as getting a better return on investment. Historical costuming isn’t cheap! Because if this were a movie fictional characters I would be behind it 100%. But since it was about the Bronte family, who were real people, it ruined a good story because I kept stopping and saying “well that never happened” or “that couldn’t happen.” As such, I was behind it 90%, like a decently researched historical romance novel.

    Other movies make writers seem pretty clueless about pregnancy too. I question whether a woman who had as many miscarriages as Catherine’s mother in Catherine Called Birdy would survive even in our modern day, much less in the medieval times. And she (spoilers) goes on to give birth to twins!

    I wish there were interviews with Michael O’Conner about the costumes. Apparently the blue dress she wears in the trailer is meant to be the “lightning bolt” dress mentioned in the Frock Flicks review of To Walk Invisible.

    1. Unfortunately multiple miscarriages were far from uncommon historically and women could survive such a series of tragedies, at least physically, though what it did to their mental health I hate to think. Catherine of Aragon is a famous example. But the odds of a woman with such a history safely delivering healthy twins is low.

  7. I don’t mind Frances O’Connor making up her own story about Emily Brontë, but I do mind it being such a boring one. A real life love affair as the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, Charlotte and Emily competing with each other, Anne barely present, even though she was much closer to Emily than Branwell ever was. It’s overdone, sexist and an insult to three wonderful authors.

  8. I am seriously unsure how I feel about this. I adore the Bronte sisters work and especially Emily’s Wuthering Heights – and have a bizarre, almost perverse, fascination with Branwell. I think maybe because he has recently been posthumously diagnosed with possible Bi-Polar – leading to addiction problems and forever seeking an altered state of mind; all of which I myself was diagnosed with and suffered from – quite acutely – as a much younger man. So basically I have some empathy there. I am fascinated with how they base the relationship between Emily and Branwell in this film. Do they touch on Branwell being the possible inspiration for Hindley in her novel? I really don’t like the idea of Emily having a sexual relationship with anyone let alone with William Weightman, who I believe had much more of a flirtation with Anne than with Emily. Costume/hair wise it looks pretty ‘spot on’. Is there a great deal of Emily rushing around the moors? It has become quite a trope and it always makes me wonder at the weight of the skirts, on a wet day, as the required petticoats absorb all that water!

  9. Because virginal women never got shit done! The costumes were really good, but, like you said 1840s=blah!

    1. Yeah – can’t have your heroine be a virgin! You know I knew plenty of older women who almost certainly never had a physical love affair. That was just the social and religious milieu they came from (men too!). But they loved full and interesting lives!

  10. Emily was barely able to function away from Haward, none of the sisters were happy except at home but Emily was the most extreme of the three. However at Haward she functioned very well indeed, running the household with minimal help as well as taking long walks over the moors. She appears to have spent most of her life wrapped up in her fantasy life. Both Anne and Charlotte made fairly successful stabs at living in the Real world, Branwell of course failed miserably at it, but Emily just wanted to be left to enjoy Gondal.

  11. While the story is awful, the costumes are lovely. Even better you can see some of the bonnets look like they were copies of or inspired by the Brontë sisters actual bonnets you can see at the parsonage. I know charlottes wedding bonnet is on display for certain.

  12. I thought this was a terrific movie, imaginative, engrossing, atmospheric, beautiful to look at. I knew little about the Brontes’ other than what I saw in the old Warner Bros. film “Devotion,” and don’t really care if liberties were taken, as little is accurately known about them. First time director Frances O’Connor did a fantastic job, and “Emily” is the first really good movie I’ve seen this year.

  13. I agree that the costumes were great, very accurate, and was gratified that apparently hairpins were not lacking. That being said…

    …if Frances O’Connor had taken the names off, it would have been a competent, if somewhat melodramatic, period piece, and I would have enjoyed it purely on that level. But no, they had to stick known historical people in it, who (bar that wastrel Branwell) are portrayed completely differently from real life. That’s a nope from me.

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