After a disorienting first ten minutes, my confusion about the film, kind of what you’d wonder when trying to name an alien being you’ve never seen before, dissipated and I was totally in for the ride.
First, let me ruin one thing for you. If you’re expecting to witness actual wild nights with Emily, stay home. The title makes you think you’re going to “Blue is the Warmest Color”, but you’ll see more skin on Ellen’s talk show.
Yet, while the title was enticing and deceptive, I’m not disappointed in Wild Nights with Emily. While totally different in topic and tone, the recent historical reenactment/documentary “The Invisibles”, like Wild Nights, take a moment in history scrapping a one note wonder period piece, preferring a fun blend. And no surprise here, since they were both produced by Greenwich Entertainment.
Blend, blend, hey, I just chose my blog title: “Wild Nights with Emily”: a Smoothie!
Madeleine Olnek who wrote and directed this piece combines history and deadpan comedy, akin the to the popular Documentary NOW!. She uses Molly Shannon (SNL) as Emily Dickinson and Brett Gelman who I absolutely adored in HBO’s “Love”, here as the stuffy Atlantic Monthly Editor. In fact I’ve now made a list of where to stalk him; HBO’s “Camping”, “Fleabag” and an indie called Lemon. Prepare to be stalked Brett. Others with great comedic future potential are Jackie Monahan and Kevin Seal.
The cinematography (sometimes a forgotten step-child) is gorgeous in this film with Emily scenes in a beautifully tranquil sunlit white curtained writing room. Victorian era costuming as well was oh so pretty making me almost wish I could wear a petticoat for a day (ok maybe hour).
Olnek deserves credit for getting the truth out about Emily. A. That she wasn’t a recluse. B. She probably wasn’t the craziest person in her childhood home. C. Putting the exclamation point on a NYT 1998 story that technology had proved that Emily’s love letters were really written to ________ (see the movie to find out) and erased and tampered with by __________(see the movie).
“Wild Nights with Emily” is worth seeing for its novelty and noble history re-recording.