Film review: Emily starring Emma Mackey

Emily is a biographical drama film that depicts the brief life of English writer Emily Brontë before she wrote Wuthering Heights. The movie is written and directed by actor-turned-director  Frances O’Connor in her directorial debut and stars Emma Mackey. Fionn Whitehead, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Alexandra Dowling, Amelia Gething, Adrian Dunbar and Gemma Jones also appear in supporting roles. Emily will be in cinemas on 14 October 2022.

Movie poster on London Tube showing woman wearing Victorian dress posing for camera

Poster of movie Emily in London tube

The story

Emily imagines the transformative, exhilarating, and uplifting journey to womanhood of a rebel and a misfit, one of the world’s most famous, enigmatic, and provocative writers who died too soon of tu tuberculosis at the age of 30.


The trailer 

The verdict

Emily is an unconventional Victorian biopic, showcasing the making of a rebellious and talented writer, who manages to break all societal boundaries to express her freedom of thought at a time when women were not yet liberated.

Emily Brontë is shown here as a brave young woman who does not fear the judgement of her peers and overcomes the obstacles of her mental and emotional challenges by channelling her creativity and observations of human passions and struggles into her only novel Wuthering Heights, regarded as a masterpiece of Romanticism (the philosophical and literary movement). 

Sex Education’s Emma Mackey turns out to be the ideal Emily Brontë capturing the moods of the troubled and sensitive writer torn between conventions and her passion for William Weightman, a parish curate who lived in the family’s home for a few years, with whom she might have had an illicit affair. This liaison has never been documented but one’s wonders where Brontë got the ideas for the turbulent lovers of her book.

Emily bronte movie with film director frances oconnor and actress emma mackey

Emily’s very first screening in the UK with film director Frances O’Connor and actress Emma Mackey presenting at BFI London on 3 October 2022

This poetic licence comes from the fact that so little biographical details are known about the author.

As the audience, this does not matter as it feels right to fill the gaps of Emily’s life with a beautiful and sexy romance for this satisfying movie. 

The pace might feel slow to some used to the fast action of mainstream films, but if you are after a more poetic and thoughtful drama, Emily is simply thrilling. 


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