Search - Emile (2003) on DVD

Emile (2003)
Actors: Ian McKellen, Theo Crane
Genres: Drama
R     2005     1hr 33min

When emile is given the opportunity to travel from england to victoria canada to receive an honorary degree he goes knowing it might be his last chance to reconnect with his only living relatives. As the past weaves togeth...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Ian McKellen, Theo Crane
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Family Life
Studio: Monarch Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/26/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 3
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Sir Ian shines through...
Peter Baklava | Charles City, Iowa | 01/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Emile" is a quiet little film with echoes of "Goodbye Mr. Chips", and "Wild Strawberries" and perhaps a bit of Eugene O'Neill. The title character, played by Ian McKellen, is a dignified old professor who returns to his native Canada from England to receive an honorary degree. He uses the opportunity to reconnect with his niece Nadia and her daughter in Vancouver, who are his only remaining relatives.

McKellen gives an exemplary performance playing an old man who is forced to come to terms with the ghosts of his past. Emile was the fortunate brother who escaped a hardscrabble farm by winning a scholarship to study in England. Many decades later on returning to Canada, he painfully revisits his past, dreaming of both brothers. Brother Carl is muscular and cruel, brother Fred is gentle, reflective and possibly a more deserving talent as a writer than Emile---which has left some guilty scars on the old man.

Further weighing on Emile's conscience is his failure to protect and care for Carl's child Nadia after her parents are killed in an accident.

There is some awkwardness in the structure of this film. When McKellen's character revisits his past, he is shown as an old man with his youthful brothers, which can cause the viewer some confusion. Plus the young actress who plays Emile's grand niece in the present day also portrays her mother as a girl in the orphanage flashbacks. But McKellen turns in a sterling performance, and the other actors are all excellent as well. For people who now and then enjoy a small film filled with subtle nuances , this should fit the bill."
Somewhere between bleak and dreary
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 06/10/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"The plot: Emile, an elderly professor, travels from London to Victoria, British Columbia to receive an honorary degree. While there he stays with his niece Nadia, whom he has not seen since she was a little girl, in the ramshackle old family farm house which his brothers used to live in before their deaths long ago.
Nadia, who was left an orphan as a young child, has recently divorced, and has a 10-year old daughter, Maria, who is bratty and disturbed over the recent breakup of her parents.
The story unfolds in flashbacks, and in Emile's cross-dimensional conversations with his brothers Carl and Freddy. These forays into the unpleasant past are filled with deep regret and sins of omission, permeated with hatred and envy, and simple lack of caring.
Maria to Emile: "What's the hardest thing about getting old ?". Emile: "All those things you haven't managed to do".
Though the film tries to have a satisfactory resolution, it somehow doesn't really ring true, because the seeds of despair have been planted too deep.

Written, directed and photographed by Carl Bessai, the acting is good, with Ian McKellen heading the cast as Emile. Others are Deborah Cara Unger as Nadia, Theo Crane as Maria (and Nadia age 10), Chris Martin as Carl, Tygh Runyan as Freddy, and Ian Tracy as Tom the repairman.
A nice mellow score by Vincent Mai (who also plays on keyboards and trumpet), and lovely cinematography of the B.C. coastline alleviate some of the gloom.
Total running time is 95 minutes.
Only McKellen saves this pretty pedestrian film
KerrLines | Baltimore,MD | 11/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Ehh! This film from British Columbia is pretty pedestrian.It is a drudging 93 minutes of characters caught in regret and anger about the past.
Ian McKellen gives his usually well calculated performance, but there really is not much with which to work here.The script,director and cameraman are one in the same in Carl Bessai,and there lacks much vision and insight into how to make this film interesting.It is there.
Emile,McKellen,has flown rural Canada 40 years earlier for a promising career as a writer in London.He leaves behind his two brothers,Carl, who is the irascible elder and Freddy the dreamy and needy younger.
Flash forward 40 years to the present, and Emile is returning to the niece and great-niece that is all the remains of his family.He actually is coming back to Canada to receive a honorary degree.When he arrives, he is greeted with nonchalance and ambivilance that is disguised as anger.We discover that the grown niece had been orphaned and that Emile was the only one who could have been her protector.She is now divorced and has a young daughter who also yearns for what is lost.The film asks us to examine what responsibility a family member should have or feel for those who remain behind when one goes away to seek their fortune.Are they at all responsible for people and events that are 7000 miles away? What could they or should they have done? These are viable questions, but this film really does little to interest you in any of the plight of the characters.Not recommended at all."
Good imagry but flabby structure
David Bowles | Berkeley, CA USA | 05/27/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Emile is one of those films I really wanted to work well. The casting is first notch, from Sir Ian McKellen (in the title role), Deborah Cara Unger (his niece Nadia), Theo Crane (Maria, Nadia's daughter), Chris Martin (Carl, one late brother), Tygh Runyan (Freddy, another late brother), to Ian Tracy (Tom the repairman).

The movie relies heavily on flashbacks, which occur all too often. When these happen, the action stops and McKellen's face freezes. He appears as an his older self but wears clothes of the past, sometimes talking to characters (who respond to him) other times passively observing. In some flashbacks, he is present at events which we now know happened when he was out of the country. The last flashback in the movie is the least plausible, as it happens when McKellen is in the middle of giving an acceptance speech for an honourary degree! Better material for a nightmare, perhaps; there was a good dream sequence early in the movie.

The interaction between McKellen and Unger is first-rate, moving from the "hostility" type of hospitality, through confrontation, sadness, acceptance and finally mutual recognition. Though we aren't presented with a complete account of what happened all those years ago, by the end everyone has got closer to each other yet evidently maintains their own lives and independence. Aside from the niece and daughter (and dead relatives) the only other character who contributes significantly is the hunk-in-the-rough repairman: is it mere coincidence that once he starts working on the house, the main characters draw closer?

All said, the camera work is excellent; this film really "gets" Victoria, an enigmatic city on Vancouver Island loved for its beauty yet reviled for its boredom. As with the flashbacks, the score by Vincent Mai is repetitous at times and could have illustrated the flashbacks more effectively."