Gambling away your credit

Villains are interesting because we cannot believe what they are prepared to do and then get away with their crimes while we keeping looking on, appalled, but also slightly amazed. With unsympathetic characters, it’s slightly different. My guess is that we are caught in the dilemma of not condoning their actions or beliefs, but somehow understanding them. We wouldn’t act their way because we are not them, but if we were, maybe we would make the same choices. The main character in Pablo LarraĆ­n’s Ema (2019) makes no effort to win our sympathies, but we get why she does what she does. To a lesser extent, we might also understand Francis’ decisions in Burhan Qurbani’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (2020), but chances are that we will never have to risk our lives crossing the Mediterranean, or deal with the violent antics of an adopted child.

Continue reading

Flame on, you crazy diamond: Ema (2019)

Some men just want to watch the world burn, someone once said. Perhaps the same can be said for some women. Not necessarily to harm or hurt, not for revenge or hatred. But perhaps there are people who, when they are told that they shouldn’t play with fire, what they hear is a taunt or, worse, a prison sentence being pronounced. Freedom means that you can burn whatever, whoever, whenever – and if someone really, truly loves you, they should understand that you need that flame to be available. So what if it burns someone?

Continue reading