The Truth About Emanuel (2013)

dir. Francesca Gregorini

Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario) is a supposedly edgy – indicated by how much she likes to roll her eyes and yell about jerking off – teenager, who has never truly dealt with her feelings of guilt over her birth coinciding with her mother’s death. When Linda (Jessica Biel) moves in next-door with her infant daughter, Emanuel agrees to babysit, promptly discovering that Linda’s baby is actually a lifeless doll. Cue essentially the entirety of the rest of the movie being comprised of people making the absolute worst decision possible in any given situation. Rather than trying to get Linda the professional help she needs, Emanuel chooses to hide the situation from all responsible adults – and can’t even do that effectively for long. It’s implied that there’s some cosmic connection between Emanuel’s mother and Linda’s actual deceased daughter, though this is so shoehorned in it’s hard to feel any investment, despite the manufactured sentimentality such as when Emanuel’s imagining herself and the doll swimming alongside a bunch of fish (why, is anyone’s guess). It’s blatant The Truth About Emanuel is meant to be a hard-hitting psychological exploration, but it just uses generic tropes to tell a generic message which leaves no memorable impact.

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