Uplifting if wildly uneven, My Name is Emily will leave you with a smile on your face and no doubt scratching your head.
Emily (Harry Potter’s Evanna Lynch) has had a rough time. Her mother died on her birthday and her father, an increasingly withdrawn writer (Michael Smiley) has been committed to a psychiatric institution, leaving her with foster parents. Billed as a drama but leaning more than gently into comic stylings, Emily decides to trek across Ireland to break her father out, accompanied by besotted teenager Arden (George Webster).
Two very adult actors who nonetheless manage to depict adolescence just that bit better than many of their contemporaries, the pair, if thoroughly charming, are, as with so much of this film, haphazardly lumped together to progress the goings-on. This does lead to a number of memorable sequences, including ruminations on their shared love of literature and a literal song and dance routine, though the vignettes that piece this film together come hard and fast, and often with little tonal consistency.
A scene on a beach at night, while not uneventful, is one of a few that belongs in a dramatically terser film or otherwise one that fleshes out it’s thematic linchpins over more than one sequence. Individually, many moments, including an especially notable encounter at the psychiatric hospital, recommend the film greatly but rendered so fractured and distinct never allow My Name is Emily to add up to something much greater than the sum of its parts.
Nevertheless a roundly heartfelt and engaging film from Director Simon Fitzmaurice whose own story, and that of the production of the film, are more compelling still, in spite of its shortcomings this aspirational tale packs a weighty emotional punch.
My Name is Emily is screening at the Sydney Film Festival