The Truth About Emanuel (2013) – By Duane L. Martin

Emanuel’s (Kaya Scodelario) mother died as a result of her being born, and as such, she’s had to live with that guilt for her entire life, which has caused her to become somewhat withdrawn and moody. When a new neighbor named Linda (Jessica Biel), who bears a striking resemblance to Emanuel’s dead mother, moves in next door with her baby, Emanuel becomes obsessed with helping her and being a part of their life. Unfortunately, Linda has problems of her own, and as the story evolves, things become more and more intense until they finally reach a breaking point.

Yes, that description of the story is rather vague, and purposely so. This is a thriller, and I don’t want to give away any of the secrets. Now, that said, I will say this. This is THE creepiest film I’ve seen in a really, really long time.

In truth, this film should be called The Truth about Linda, because she’s the one with the serious issues, not Emanuel. I guess that title didn’t sound as good though. In any case, here’s the low down…

Throughout this entire film, Kaya Scodelario had me thinking about Kristen Stewart. There’s not only something similar about the way they look, but in their personalities and the way they act as well. In fact, if she wasn’t already too old to play the part, Kristen Steward could have played Emanuel just as perfectly as Kaya Scodelario did.

Emanuel is a really quiet and subdued person, and every year on her birthday she makes her father tell her every last detail of the day her mother died, which incredibly painful for him, but he does it anyway because he loves her. She’s never had a mother, and she seems to have less than no use for her step-mother, but when Linda moves in next door, she becomes sort of a surrogate mother slash best friend to her. Unfortunately, Linda’s got some issues of her own, and that’s where Jessica Biel really shines in this film. She plays the character as not only completely normal, but also completely oblivious to her own issues, which is why no one suspects what’s really going on in her house. When Emanuel finds out the real story though, she not only plays along, but she helps her to protect her secret because of the relationship that develops between them.

As brilliant as this film is, there was one aspect of it that I found to be rather unnecessary, and that was the addition of Emanuel’s boyfriend Claude (Aneurin Barnard), who oddly enough reminded me of a cross between Toby McGuire and Elijah Wood. He didn’t seem to have much purpose in relation to the story. He was a likeable character and did a great job with his part, but his relation to the main events of the story was minimal at best. I can see where their relationship showed what a difficult time Emanuel had in building those kinds of relationships with people and maintaining them, and he did serve to fill in some side parts of the story, but I kept wishing they’d have either left him out entirely, or given him a larger role to play.

The relationship between Emanuel and her father Dennis (Alfred Molina) was quite believable. He lets her get away with being moody and often times rude because of the guilt she feels over the death of her mother. He also gives her all the love he can and really cares about her, but even so, there’s only so much he can do for her.

This new release from Well Go USA contains an interview with the director, deleted scenes, outtakes, the film’s trailer and optional subtitles.

While a lot of the film is about Emmanuel, the creepy aspects only come into it once Linda’s secrets are revealed, and that’s when the film becomes truly brilliant. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one going in, but after seeing it, I can tell you that this is one that I’ll definitely be watching again at some point in the future. Far more than a one time watcher, the creep factor in this one will have you coming back for more.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy of the blu-ray or DVD for yourself, you can get them from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.