Emily in the A.M. (2010) – By Cary Conley

Emily is a young lady who has moved to the big city of Philadelphia to try to mend her relationship with her boyfriend.  More comfortable in a small-town setting, Emily nevertheless makes the move to her own apartment to be closer to Jim, her boyfriend.  But once she settles into her new apartment, she texts Jim only to find he is sick.  So Emily braves the bright lights and big city so she can take care of her boyfriend as he recovers.  But what she discovers at her boyfriend’s apartment is that the relationship she hoped to have with him will never come to fruition.  Devastated and lonely and not wanting to lock herself up alone in a strange apartment, she wanders the Philly backstreets all night.  As she walks, she meets some of the denizens of the city, and as she reflects upon these characters and her life up to this point, she slowly comes to realize some important things about herself.

Director Daniel Brown has populated his film with quirky characters such as the man who claims to know every song ever made.  To prove this point to Emily, he puts on his headphones and screeches a tune to hilarious effect.  There is also the lonely man at the all-night diner who is just happy to have some company, even if from separate tables.  And every newcomer to the Big City has encountered the eccentric homeless person who wanders the subways talking to himself.  We’ve all felt that sense of fear of the unexpected as we skirt the "crazies" in the subways or sidewalks.  But Alison Strycharz as Emily is the undeniable star of this 30-minute film short.  She is not just pretty, but projects a real sense of vulnerability onto the role of Emily who is certainly a fish out of water as she walks the early morning streets of Philadelphia.

Strycharz shows excellent range as an actress as she begins the search for her boyfriend’s apartment as an apprehensive newbie to the city.  After her revelations about her boyfriend, we are not entirely sure Emily is going to make it in the city, or for that matter, back to her own apartment.  But by dawn, we have a sense that just as she has survived the night on the mean streets of Philly, she has transformed herself from a victim to a survivor.  She comes across as confident and almost joyous at her new found freedom, both from what she thought was love as well as from her fears and prejudices of big cities.  The viewer gets the impression that not only will Emily survive, but she will thrive in this freedom.  This transformation is due largely to both Strycharz’ acting abilities as well as the deft direction of Brown.

This is an ultimately uplifting tale of one person’s transformation from being needy to becoming self-sufficient and Brown does an excellent job in crafting this story.  While the film isn’t yet widely available, for more information, please go to www.emilymovie.com or www.wideeyedpictures.com.