Every Sundance needs a darling and a film that leaves you lost in your own thoughts. Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes is one of those defiantly Sundance films, with everything from it’s long and mysterious title, to it’s opening voice-over narration, to it’s quirky characters who don’t follow the rules of decorum, and it’s unique perspective on one tiny crack in the world where a group of people are just trying to get by.

This was not my favorite film here, but it’s the one I can’t shake…

The Players:

  • Director/Screenwriter: Francesca Gregorini
  • Producers: Matthew R. Brady, Francesca Gregorini
  • Coproducers: Rooney Mara, Tatiana Von Furstenberg,
  • Cinematographer: Polly Morgan
  • Principal Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, Alfred Molina, Frances O’Connor, Jimmi Simpson, Aneurin Barnard

Sundance Description:

Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes is a hyperstylized and often darkly humorous film that vacillates between surrealism and realism while it incorporates suspenseful drama. Writer/director Francesca Gregorini’s tightly constructed script fuses pain with poetry and explores the complexity of being complicit in the lives of our loved ones.

The Good:

  • Women with Mommy Issues: Film festivals are packed with sons and their mommy issues and daughters with their father issues, but rarely do you get a female driven film, where the men play the support to women with mommy issues. It’s a refreshing POV and extremely well handled. It’s in no way whiny or overly feminine, while still allowing the woman to run the show.
  • Visuals: This film lives in a world all its own and does a beautiful job at creating an environment that sucks you in and allows you to visually experience the fantasy of the story. With hyperstylized looks, beautiful costumes, bright colors and some lovely uses of water and light, this film is visually very well crafted.

The Bad:

  • Over Darling-ed: As much as Sundance darlings are needed, this film had a number of convenient moments, forced scenes, dialogue for dialogues sake, overly childish reactions from characters, and a little too much of pushing and saying the issues, rather than letting us experience them. This is a common problem with dramatic films are the festival and one that out in the real world, often leads to a film becoming great or buried.


This film was not a fun ride, it had moments that felt contrived and a lead character that was given too much dialogue and overly indulged… and yet it’s left me in this mind-melt. The film has its faults, but I couldn’t shake it and still can’t. It leaves you off balance and in need of finding your own stability all while toying with your own thoughts and perspectives.

It was powerful, it was meaningful, and if there’s one thing I think the world of cinema is missing, it’s exactly this kind of filmmaking.

Rating: 7.5/10