Not much is known about the life of Wuthering Heights author Emily Brontë, but the new romantic drama Emily, out now in select theaters, aims to imagine the life she might have led.
Sex Education’s Emma Mackey stars as the titular writer, and she tells ABC Audio the film’s central romance, while unlikely, was rooted in curiosity.
“From the offset there’s a mutual fascination,” Mackey says. “There’s an unwanted fascination between the two of them.”
Oliver Jackson-Cohen plays clergyman William Weightman, the other half of the romantic duo. He says curiosity isn’t the only thing that connects the pair.
“What seems to bind them together is this element of creativity. The fact that Weightman is suppressing, to a certain extent, his creativity for what he believes is right,” Cohen said. “Here’s Emily’s creativity kind of coming out of her … I think there’s something incredibly romantic about that.”
Writer/director Frances O’Connor says it was important for Brontë to fall for someone much her opposite, that the challenge of it allowed her to remain true to herself.
“I think it’s really helpful for Emily to fall in love with what really is the patriarchy. Someone who ultimately is never going to accept who she is,” O’Connor says. “Those parts of us that are authentic and different, a lot of the time the patriarchy doesn’t accept it. So, what do you do and how do you still maintain your voice through that?”
While the film explores grief and confinement, Mackey believes it is ultimately a story about hope.
“I think it’s a very sad film. I always feel very heartbroken after … But it is a hopeful film,” Mackey says. “All of the characters show in some way that they’re trying to fight for something and they’re trying to find their voice.”
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