It’s a dramatic psychological thriller with a powerful secret, captivating from the moment it begins; films of such a high calibre and with such an engaging premise have really been few and far between in recent memory.
Kaya Scodelario is breathtaking in the titular lead, starring as the troubled young teen, Emanuel. She becomes obsessed with her mysterious new neighbour, Linda (Jessica Biel), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Emanuel’s mother, who died whilst giving birth to her.
When Emanuel is invited over to babysit for Linda’s newborn daughter, a striking chemistry develops, forming a strong bond between the young girl on the cusp of adulthood and the new mother. And when reality threatens to burst their bubble, Emanuel goes to great lengths to keep the outside world at bay.
Scodelario and Biel are joined by a terrific supporting cast, with Alfred Molina playing Emanuel’s widower father; Frances O’Connor, her new stepmother; and Aneurin Barnard giving a terrific performance as the young love interest for Emanuel, Claude.
Writer-director Francesca Gregorini has created a real work of art with her sophomore feature, and her debut solo feature, boldly weaving elements of the real and surreal together.
Rare is the film that has such a strong leading female duo as this, and rarer still is the film that is grounded in such a talented young actress.
Scodelario brilliantly brings to life all of the young Emanuel’s complexities in what I hope will be her breakthrough performance, powerfully creating authenticity to all of the pain and frustration Emanuel feels, perceiving herself to be the cause of her mother’s death. Truly, Scodelario is a remarkable actress, and comparisons to such equally talented actresses as Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway would certainly be well-deserved.
There is a real beauty and heartbreak to Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes that simultaneously haunts and warms every frame. It is a unique, highly original, and utterly intriguing film that holds your attention right through to the finale. In all likelihood, you won’t see a film like it this year, or for many years to come.