Ever watch a movie and wonder what it would have been like after just one more draft? That is pretty much what The Truth About Emanuel is like and it is a feeling that is prominent from the first line down to the last reel of film.
The plot involves a very troubled teenage girl (Kaya Scodelario, doing her best Kristin Stewart impression) that is in desperate need of psychological help. Her entire life seems defined by the fact that her mom died during childbirth, so much so that she even makes her dad (the always amazing Alfred Molina) retell the story of her mom’s death every birthday.
Everything begins to change for her when she befriends a single mother (Jessica Biel, who does a fantastic job with her role) who has some secrets of her own. While I won’t give any spoilers both Biel and Scodelario are psychologically damaged and you can’t help but wonder what good putting them together will do. The fact is, if the film had taken a different perspective and followed just Biel’s rather twisted storyline and minimized Scodelario and her depressing inner monologues, The Truth About Emanuel would be a much better movie.
In fact it would be the movie shown in the trailers, not the one released. The story itself doesn’t seem to know where it is going as you spend the movie watching the unbalanced help the unwell with no real resolution in sight. Once a conclusion finally is reached things begin to spiral out of control to the point where you truly do worry about the sanity of Scodelario.
At its core The Truth About Emanuel could be a tense, psychological thriller and a study in the nature of losing someone you love. Instead it takes the Twilight approach and wallows in its own sadness essentially missing the more interesting story.
The performances of Molina and Biel alone make the movie worth watching but almost everyone else seems to be phoning it in, especially Scodelario. This is a movie that is sure to show up on Netflix soon, if you’re still wondering what the truth is I would wait to watch it there.
In theaters, January 10th. Watch the trailer.