Emile

An elderly, self-absorbed academic (McKellen) returns to Victoria in Canada after years of English exile to accept an honorary degree. He stays with his niece (Unger), who seems strangely resentful, but slowly builds up a rapport with her doe-eyed daughter (Crane). The longer his stay, the more haunted he becomes by memories of his impoverished, rural childhood and of the brothers he left behind. Clearly intended as a Canadian counterpart to Wild Strawberries, writer/director Bessai's film has little of the lyricism or emotional depth of Bergman's classic. There are too many dull, domestic scenes, and the flashbacks are too arch and self-conscious. The redoubtable Unger stands out, but McKellen offers a strangely tentative performance as the old man returning to his roots. As he showed in his previous film Lola (2001), a moody, neonlit tale about a young woman adrift in the big city, Bessai clearly has an eye for a striking shot, but here the grainy, evocative imagery of the childhood scenes does little to atone for a contrived and ultimately very maudlin narrative.

Release details

Duration: 92 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Carl Bessai
Screenwriter: Carl Bessai
Cast: Ian McKellen
Deborah Kara Unger
Tygh Runyan
Chris William Martin
Ian Tracey
Janet Wright
Nancy Sivak
Theo Crane
Frank Borg
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