Wit (2001)

Wit is not a film for everybody but it is a film that makes you think, that deeply disturbs, that penetrates into the bowels of our soul and puts us face to face with fears, suffering, regrets and loneliness.

Two years ago I lost my best friend from ovarian cancer so it was difficult and painful for me to watch this movie.

Emma Thompson – Wit

The protagonist, Vivian Bearing, a professor of English literature, known for her intense knowledge of metaphysical poetry, after having spent a good part of her life mortifying her students, after having raised emotional barriers towards others, receives the diagnosis of metastatic ovarian cancer and suddenly finds herself alone, and during hospitalization she has a lot of time to think back to her previous behavior. The film is narrated in the first person as if the protagonist spoke directly to the public, her suffering is not hidden but shown without filters or shame.

Emma Thompson – Wit

During the course of the film, she continuously breaks the fourth wall by looking straight into the camera and clearly expressing all her feelings, as if she were a detached and involved narrator at the same time.

The only person who does not treat her like a guinea pig but shows her a shred of humanity is Susie, the nurse, to whom Vivian shows her own fragility.

Very touching is the episode in which the two women share a popsicle to ease the tension.

Emma Thompson – Wit

During her illness Vivian receives only a visit from her former graduate school professor and mentor, Evelyn Ashford, with whom she had talked about life, death, soul and God years before, without taking Evelyn’s advice to go out and enjoy herself with her friends.

During the visit, in front of Vivian’s desperate complaints, Evelyn reads her excerpts from The Runaway Bunny, embracing her as a mother does with a child.

Emma Thompson – Wit

As Vivian nears the end of her life, experiencing the drama of loneliness, she repents of the coldness of her heart and realizes that human compassion and empathy are more important than intellectual wit.

The film is raw, merciless, the scenography is spartan, almost all the scenes, with the exception of the flashbacks, are shot within the cold walls of a hospital room.

Emma shows great intensity without trying to be moving or arousing pity at all costs, but playing a very difficult part with determination and lucidity.

She also cut her hair to better fit the character.

I recommend watching the film to people who are not experiencing a dramatic moment, otherwise the film could hurt their sensitivity.

The tall guy (1989)

The Tall Guy is a 1989 British romantic comedy starring Emma Thompson, Jeff Goldblum and Rowan Atkinson.

The protagonist is an American actor working in London who plays in a long-running comedy.

He suffers from chronic hay fever so he subjects himself to a course of injections, and at hospital he meets and falls in love with Kate (played by Emma), who works there as a nurse.

It’s a modest comedy, a mix between a modern musical and a funny but bad play and it marks Emma’s film debut.

The movie is a hodgepodge of weird scenes thrown together in the middle of which stands out a ridiculous sex scene during which the protagonists destroy the bedroom, crush a bag of milk sitting on it, she breaks a teapot on his head, they drop paintings from the wall and play the piano with headbutts.

Emma said: “There was shots of my arse with bits of toast stuck to it. Two fucking days of being nude on set!”.

Fortunately, Emma’s subsequent films were much better but in this debut film she has nevertheless shown to be talented for comedy.

Stranger than fiction (2006)

Karen Eiffel is a chain-smoker famous writer, struggling with writer’s block and she is trying to come up with the ending of a story (she always kills her main characters but this time she cannot find a way to kill his protagonist at the end of the story).

Harold Crick is an average man working as IRS agent, who lives his life according to routine until something upsets him: he begins to hear a mysterious female voice narrating his life. It’s Karen’s voice and Harold is unknowingly the protagonist of Karen’s novel so he’s doomed to die.

Great cast, nice movie, original and interesting script.

Will Ferrell, supremely gifted in comedic roles, puts on a good performance in a more serious role.

Emma is very convincing playing the weird writer.

The winter guest (1997)

The winter guest marks the debut of Alan Rickman as director.

Emma and her mother, Phyllida Law, star as the recently widowed Frances, a photographer, and her prickly mother, Elspeth, in the mute and chilly Scottish landscape.

The story focuses on the conflictual mother-daughter relationship.

The film opens with an aged woman walking on the way to her daughter’s house; Frances has lost her husband and she has retreated into silence and anger. She refuses to leave the house and her 16-year-old son Alex takes care of both of them.

Her mother’s coming creates an overwhelming situation because Elspeth wants to goad her but Frances doesn’t stand her mother’s complaints and rebukes.

They have a prickly relationship but in the end affection will take over misunderstandings.

The silent and snowy setting highlights the bitter dialogues between mother and daughter but also some moments of tenderness.

Emma and her mother are delightful together but being mother and daughter in real life has definitely helped them. I’d love to see them play together again.

Nanny McPhee

When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.

Nanny McPhee

Nanny McPhee is a governess with magic powers, we could define her a horrible looking Mary Poppins! She always arrives not wanted, but called to manage the situation. Once her task is completed, she has to go, even if she is now wanted.

In both episodes, Nanny McPhee (2005) and Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010), she has to reform naughty children: she uses a magic stick; at first, children can’t stand her, then they love her but… she has to leave because she has completed her mission.

Nanny McPhee

Emma is unrecognizable because of the cinematic makeup and only at the end of the movie , for few seconds, we can see her pretty face again.

When you need me but do not want me…

Late night (2019)

Katherine Newbury is a famous late night talk show host, whose career is in decline. She is selfish and unfriendly and she is considered as a woman who doesn’t like women. She is likely to be replaced so she tries to revamp the show and she hires (as racial quota) Molly Patel, a young Indian woman, who is the only woman in an all male writers’ room.

They all consider her as a diversity hire so Molly struggles to prove her abilities and to help the unkind Katherine revitalize the show.

Mindy Kaling, who stars as Molly in the supporting role, is also the screenplayer of the film.

Thanks to her performance, Emma received the nomination for best actress at the Golden Globe Awards.

The film is a nice comedy – drama that tackles a lot of issues as racial and sexual discrimination.

The funniest scene is when Katherine drives to Coney Island to ask Molly to come back. She climbs up six flights of stairs cursing and swearing the whole time. Emma is really hilarious when she plays that way 😁

Amusing and brilliant movie.

I need your pushiness – Late night

Howards End (1992)

If you like period films you can’t miss Howards End. The film juxtaposes the emotional, intellectual Schlegel sisters against the materialistic Wilcox family, showing us the differing attitudes toward emerging class early in the century.

Emma won the Best Leading Actress Oscar for her performance, acting Margaret Schlegel, an open-minded intellectual, highly educated, who likes music, poetry, politic and intellectual discussions; she marries Henry Wilcox, a pragmatic, snobbish business man, becoming a class-conscious woman, but deeply she goes on musing about human nature.

She takes care of her younger and selfless sister, Helen, to whom Henry gives a cynic advice: “don’t take up a sentimental attitude towards the poor. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is!”

Margaret tries to make her husband a better man (and for me, beneath the icy surface, he owns a likeable side too).

The complexity of Margaret’s character with its many nuances lead us through Emma’s own path for the whole film, that’s why she deserved the Oscar: Howards End is Emma Thompson’s film from start to finish. Her charm fills the scene.

The following clip is about Henry’s proposal and Margaret’s excited and sweet reaction.

All is perfect: Henry’s piercing eyes, Margaret’s question about the ceiling heights to disguise her emotions, her hopeful eyes and her trembling gaze when she realizes that he is asking her to be his wife, the way she bites her lips saying “yes, I know, I know” walking off, the shy kiss, Henry’s hand touching slightly Margaret’s, the elegant way she goes down the stairs, the satisfied look on Henry’s face at the top of the stairs.

Their mimic and gestures, every movement, are studied in detail and yet everything is so natural.

It’s a stunning performance disguised as normal acting. Two hugely talented actors at their tops!

Henry’s proposal – Howards End

Alone in Berlin (2016)

The film is based on the Hans Fallada’s novel “Every man dies alone”, originally published in 1947.

Director Vincent Pérez decided to turn the book into a film. It’s the story of two ordinary people, Otto and Anna Quangel, who do something extraordinary. After the loss of their son to the war, they decide to fight the Nazis writing 286 postcards to urge other people to stand fiercely against Hitler.

I’ve noticed that so many directors wish to have Emma in the cast as leading actress, especially in dramatic roles. In fact Pérez says Emma was the only person he considered for that role and as we can see, she’s spot on as usual.

Alone in Berlin