|The Truth About Emanuel|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Francesca Gregorini|
|Produced by||Matt R. Brady |
|Written by||Francesca Gregorini|
|Starring||Jessica Biel |
|Music by||Nathan Larson|
|Edited by||Antony Langdon|
Pisces Rising Productions
Rooks Nest Entertainment
The Truth About Emanuel (previously Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes) is a 2013 American thriller drama film written, directed and produced by Francesca Gregorini. The film stars Jessica Biel, Kaya Scodelario, Alfred Molina, Jimmi Simpson, Aneurin Barnard and Frances O'Connor. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013.
This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (November 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Emanuel is a seventeen-year-old young woman who is still wracked with guilt over her late mother who died giving birth to her. On the train on her way to her job at a medical supply shop she meets a boy named Claude, with whom she becomes romantically involved. Emanuel lives at her small home in Los Angeles with her father and her stepmother, with whom she is anti-social because she is nothing like her mother, and who accuses her of thinking she is a lesbian, as per her name being Emanuel (since her parents believed she was going to be a boy), as a way to justify her bitterness to her stepmother.
The next night a woman named Linda moves into the neighborhood as Emanuel's new next door neighbor, and Emanuel is shocked when she notices that Linda looks just like her late mother. When Emanuel discovers that Linda is in need of a babysitter for her newborn baby, Emanuel – despite her dislike of children – agrees, claiming she'll need the extra money for her souvenir collection, but it's only because she wants to get to know more about the woman who looks like her dead mother. When Linda agrees to allow Emanuel to babysit her child, her interests are shattered when she discovered that the "baby" is actually a doll, and Emanuel believes Linda is mentally disturbed. But as Linda and Emanuel develop a friendship, Emanuel tries to hide the fact that Linda's "baby" is really a doll from others by not letting people near the "baby". But that task becomes increasingly harder when her best friend/co-worker Arthur from the medical supply store befriends Linda when she goes in to purchase a baby nasal aspirator, and agrees to substitute for Emanuel as the babysitter when Linda makes mention of being invited to Emanuel's birthday dinner and needing a substitute babysitter the night of the dinner.
Before the dinner, Emanuel's father tells her the story of her birth and her mother's death. This is something she makes her father do every year on her birthday, and she corrects his telling of the story several times. In the kitchen, while cleaning up the dishes, Emanuel's step-mother explains to Linda that Emanuel is troubled and might be misinterpreting Linda's fondness for her (thinking that Emanuel has lesbian tendencies towards Linda). When saying goodnight to Claude, after the birthday dinner, Emanuel treats him rather harshly when he brings up that he's agreed to landscape for Linda. Emanuel thinks that he's following her everywhere because they met on the bus, he has been to her home a couple of times, and now he would be around while working for Linda. Claude tells Emanuel that she won't have to see him anymore and leaves.
Emanuel agrees to babysit when Linda goes on a date with Arthur. When Arthur and Linda return from the date, Linda suggests that Arthur go upstairs with her to see the baby, who Emanuel says is sleeping. Emanuel begs for Arthur not to go upstairs to see the baby but after Linda calls him up again, he heads upstairs and realizes right away that the baby is not real. Linda seems to finally realize that Chloe is a doll and begins to panic about where her baby is. Assuming that Emanuel must have replaced Linda's real baby with a phony one, they call Emanuel several times and ask her where Chloe is. After she tells them Chloe is in her crib, Arthur shows her that the Chloe that is in the crib is a doll, not a real baby, and demands to know where Linda's baby is. While Linda yells and threatens to call the police, Emanuel begins to have an emotional meltdown and takes the doll, resulting in her fainting. As she faints, she has a vision in which she holds tightly onto Chloe while water floods into the room.
Emanuel swims out of a window in the room into a deep body of water, still holding the Chloe doll. Emanuel swims for a bit and then sees her dead mother swimming a short distance away. The Chloe doll springs to life and swims to Emanuel's mother, who embraces the baby and swims away. Confused, Emanuel hears her name being called and swims away until she awakens on a gurney with her father and a police officer present. She is then taken to the hospital. When the officer asks Emanuel about the circumstances regarding the baby's disappearance, she claims the baby got away from her in the water and went to Emanuel's mom and that they both swam away.
Once out of the hospital, Emanuel visits Claude at his job and makes up with him.
Linda's husband is found, and he comes to town and explains to Emanuel and her parents that after spending a lot of money and time trying to conceive, they finally had a baby. The baby died, and with the autopsy results being inconclusive, no one knew what happened, but Linda blamed herself. After the funeral, which Linda would not attend, she began using a doll to replace her dead baby. When her husband tried to have her institutionalized, she disappeared with the doll, and he filed a missing person's report. Now that Linda has been found, she is being held in a psychiatric hospital, where she can only be visited by family. Her prognosis is not good.
Emanuel later asks her father for permission to go see Linda, only for him to harshly tell her to end her obsession with Linda because she is nothing like her mother.
Going against her father's bitter advice, Emanuel breaks into Linda's house and steals the doll. She then, with Claude's help, sneaks into the psychiatric hospital where Linda is being held and sneaks into Linda's room, where she tells her that her baby died from drowning, as Emanuel saw in her vision. When Linda asks Emanuel what happened to her baby, Emanuel describes the vision omitting the part about her own mom, as a way to explain Chloe's death. Emanuel then sneaks Linda out of the hospital and brings her to the cemetery where her (Emanuel's) mother had been buried. Because of how ironic it is that Linda's daughter is dead, and physically never was alive, and that Emanuel's mother died giving birth to her, Emanuel tearfully digs a makeshift grave over her mother's tomb and buries Chloe in it. The movie ends with the two women lying in the dirt, watching the stars in the night sky.
- Kaya Scodelario as Emanuel
- Jessica Biel as Linda
- Alfred Molina as Dennis
- Frances O'Connor as Janice
- Jimmi Simpson as Arthur
- Aneurin Barnard as Claude
Filming took place in Los Angeles, California, between 23 January 2012 and 26 February 2012.
The Truth About Emanuel premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013. The film was also shown at the Ashland Independent Film Festival in April 2013, the 2013 Bend Film Festival, in November at the Denver Film Festival, and in several other film festivals in US, UK and Brazil. The film was released in US theaters on January 10, 2014 and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on March 25, 2014.
Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times wrote that the film "uses overwrought scenes of magical realism to couch psychosis as poetry and masochism as growing pains. Dependent on the cliché of women operating solely on instinct and without regard for logic (or, apparently, gainful employment), the film never finds its dramatic footing. Nor, sadly, its common sense." Kyle Smith of The New York Post panned the film, giving it 1 star out of 4, writing that it deserved a parody remake for the dream sequences in which Emanuel is underwater: "Worse than the contrivances, though, are the many pretentious dream sequences of Emanuel swimming deep underwater, hoping to reconnect with her mom, or something. Unlike the title character, though, the script by director Francesca Gregorini sinks to the bottom of the ocean with its cement-like touch."
Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com rated the film 1.5 stars out of 4. She praised Kaya Scodelario's presence, but criticized the overall tone of the film. "The elaborate tap dance of protection and distraction plays like farce when it should be gripping and tense, and it's unintentionally amusing when it should be creepy or sad."
Francesca Gregorini also earned the Best Feature Director prize at the 2013 L.A. Femme Film Festival.
In January 2020, writer/director Francesca Gregorini filed a copyright infringement and injunction-seeking lawsuit against Apple TV+ and the creators and producers of Servant, a psychological horror series that debuted on the new streaming network in November 2019. She alleged that Servant "is a brazen copy" of The Truth About Emanuel and accused them of sexism. Servant's creator Tony Basgallop and co-producer M. Night Shyamalan responded that neither had seen her film and that any similarity is coincidence.
- Chitwood, Adam (29 November 2012). "Sundance 2013: First Images from EMANUEL AND THE TRUTH ABOUT FISHES, FRUITVALE, IN A WORLD, and MAY IN THE SUMMER". Collider. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- Chitwood, Adam (28 November 2012). "2013 Sundance Film Festival Announces Lineups for U.S. and World Competitions and NEXT Sections". Collider. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- Sneider, Jeff (13 December 2011). "Kaya Scodelario has 'Fishes' to fry". Variety. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- Catsoulis, Jeannette (January 9, 2014). "Everyone's a Drag, Except That Cool New Neighbor". The New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- Smith, Kyle (January 10, 2014). "'Truth About Emanuel' deserves parody remake". New York Post. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- Lemire, Christy (January 10, 2014). "The Truth About Emanuel movie review (2014) | Roger Ebert". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- "Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes | Festival Program". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Gilbert, Sophie (15 January 2020). "The Filmmaker Who Says M. Night Shyamalan Stole Her Movie". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
- Patten, Dominic (January 15, 2020). "Apple & M. Night Shyamalan Hit With Copyright Suit Over 'Servant' Ripping Off Sundance Film". Deadline. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Truth About Emanuel|