Review by Avid Maldonado, February 13, 2017
The eponymous MY NAME IS EMILY opens up with Emily in a bathtub, saying, “Life happens quickly” and that people hope that once they wake up (assuming that they will) they can resolve their issues and be happy.
Yet, in life, nothing is guaranteed. The only certainty is one’s inevitable death. It’s how we negotiate the vicissitudes between birth and the inevitable that distinguishes us. And under the direction of award winning Director Simon Fitzmaurice, Emily, an ingénue on a mission to rescue her father from a psychiatric ward, certainly distinguishes herself.
The setting is Ireland and on her 16th birthday, Emily, played by Evanna Lynch, is waiting for a birthday card from her father, Robert (Michael Smiley). Emily has received a letter from him every month and especially on her birthdays. Then one day, the letters stopped.
Emily decides she must rescue her dad and enlists the help of Arden (George Webster), her schoolmate. The two teenagers live very different lives but both come from broken homes. Their relationship ripens on the mission to rescue Emily’s father and that first step begins with them standing in a torrential rainstorm in their failed attempts at hitching a ride. They are undeterred. Arden wises up and goes to his grandmother’s house and she lends Arden his late grandfather’s car and gives him a suit that granddad wore when he proposed to her.
Arden learns details about Emily’s dad in the psych ward when she relays the story of how her dad became obsessed with his work after a car crash in which her mother died. The next day comes and they are both hungry but have little money. They go to a grocery store and she buys flowers but steals some groceries. Arden becomes highly upset, stating that he could have paid for it like “normal people” and Emily replies, “What is normal?”
They bicker and Arden tells her she knows nothing about his life while she says that she does not owe him anything just because he came with her voluntary. Their arguing comes to a halt when a cop pulls them over. Emily begs Arden to drive away because she needs to rescue her father. Hesitantly, he complies, and they eventually set up camp at a beach.
Night comes upon them and a few drunken guys harass them until Arden gets his grandfather’s pistol from the car. Eventually, it unfolds that Emily’s father is no longer in the psychiatric ward, that he was there for two years voluntarily. Emily and her dad eventually reconcile.
Emily and Arden discern who they really are during their time with one another in this a heart-warming film. The actors perform phenomenally and viewers, thanks to the director, will feel as if they are a part of the journey that Emily and Arden undertake.
One of the many reasons to see this film besides the directing and acting and writing: Viewers may be inspired that they too can distinguish themselves negotiating the ups and downs between birth and the inevitable. Director Director Fitzmaurice, actors Lynch and Webster and the rest of the cast truly make MY NAME IS EMILY a relatable film for all viewers.
Opens and runs, February 17 – 23, Cinema Village, New York City, 22 East 12th Street.
Avid Maldonado can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org