Emma Mackey in “Emily” 2022. IMDb photo

Dear viewers, I send you this week to the brand new Maine Film Center in Waterville to enjoy Francis O’Connor’s directorial debut film “Emily.”

O’Connor, a former actor with a shiny resume (“Mansfield Park” 1999, “Bedazzled” 2000) steps out of the hot lights and into the impressive powerful dark world behind the camera where the real money is.

Her “Emily,” opening Friday here, is a gloriously filmed, impeccably directed, beautifully acted, and “sexed-up” life of Emily Brontë, who gave us one novel, the immortal “Wuthering Heights.”

Emily (Emma Mackey, “Death on the Nile” 2022) as you may recall, is one of the sisters that included Anne (Amelia Gething),  Charlotte, (Alexandra Dowling, HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), and their errant, sad brother Branwell (Fionn Whitehead “Dunkirk”), all blend beautifully.

Emily, O’Connor tells us, was known to the townsfolk as the “strange one,” with her dark hair and reticent manner. Shades of Salem.

Her father, a stiff and proper reverend Patrick Brontë (a very good Adrian Dunbar) brings a curate to teach Emily French.


This will be William Weightman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, “Invisible Man” 2020) a handsome piece of Yorkshire flesh, to teach Emily French with a dash of politics and theology. Hold on to your seats.

At meals, eyes dart back and forth through the candlelight, and one hazy afternoon, the happy couple are in a deserted barn engaging in a toss in real hay, ripping each other’s finery and sharing spit and scratches. Clutch your pearls.

Here in the gauzy afternoon shadows, we get a glimpse of our fevered Emily’s breast and William’s sweaty brow.

But to stir the pot, O’Connor brings blonde, blue eyed, rosy cheeked sister Charlotte home from school, and our curate’s eyes wanders. Emily does not take this well. Here is where the heath and health of Brontë world begins to crumble. Stay tuned.

It’s clear to all of us, that in order to properly juice up Emily’s story for the screen, O’Connor needed a good actor and one with slow, simmering eyes. She found both in Mackey, (also Netflix’s “Sex Education” now streaming). Good choice.

Did I forget to tell you that O’Connor’s subject is not your grandmother’s Emily Brontë, who some critics say never loved anyone, let alone the dashing curate, and may have been a lesbian? In Yorkshire?


But as Alfred Hitchcock famously said, “It’s only a movie.”

It is indeed, and it’s a pretty good one.

Abel Korzeniowski’s score, with dark choral passages is properly haunting.

Nanu Segal’s camera loves Yorkshire’s greenery and Mackey’s eyes. You will too.

“Emily” opens at the Maine Film Center in Waterville on Friday.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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