Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín has some good news and some bad news to share. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: principal photography for his upcoming English-language film The True American, which is slated to star Amy Adams, Kumail Nanjiani, and Mark Ruffalo, has been pushed to 2019. That opened up his schedule and brings us to the good news: he’s reuniting with his No and Neruda muse Gael García Bernal for a new project that started shooting just this past weekend. The film is titled Ema and will be a change of pace for the Jackie director: it’s set in present-day Chile.
According to reports in Culto, Ema will be centered on the issue of adoption. Not from the point of view of the adoptees, but from the perspective of the parents. García Bernal and Mariana Di Girolamo will play the central couple at the heart of the story, but they’ll be joined by a mostly female-driven ensemble that includes Paola Giannini, Santiago Cabrera, Giannina Fruttero, Josefina Fiebelkorn, and Paula Hofmann, among others.
Co-written with Guillermo Calderón and Alejandro Moreno, the plot sounds like it’ll send Larraín into melodrama territory, a genre he hasn’t yet explored on screen before. But for those thinking the lauded director is moving away from his political roots, he made it clear nothing could be further from the truth. In examining the changing nature of family structures in his native country, he hopes to continue his examination of Chilean culture. “This film will question what it is we mean by family,” he told Culto. “I think that idea has changed greatly in Chile and around the world. If someone tells me ‘This is my family,’ it’s not clear to me what they’re referring to. What do you mean by that in this day and age?” Ultimately, the question that will drive Ema – What constitutes a family? – is as timeless and timely a question as any other.
Oh. And as if all of that wasn’t enough to pique your interest for this new Larraín flick, we should also note that modern dance will be front and center. With a score by electronic artist Nicolás Jaar and work by choreographer José Luis Vidal, Larraín has promised that dance will be a key way in which his characters (which include dancers and choreographers) will express themselves. Just don’t expect a full-blown musical. One thing we can expect? Some reggaetón, which has us already daydreaming about Gael’s fly dance moves.