An experiential diving into the soul of Emily Dickinson. That's what I felt. It's dark, witty, passionate, multiplex. Diving into her vibrant inner life. A soul searcher trying to reconcile many disparate threads in her psyche and her restrictive culture. She created an alchemy of her different loves, yearnings, griefs, bitternesses, illnesses while living a simple more and more reclusive life at home. This film takes all of these themes and helps you feel them. And in the center of that inner sensory trajectory of Emily Dickinson you can feel more deeply into your own conflicts and humanity. This is what makes a brilliant film and this is a brilliant film.
Terence Davies wrote and directed this film. The way he wove Dickinson's poems into her life was flawless. Cynthia Nixon played the role and it again was brilliant: The way she spoke and interpreted the poems unlocked many for me. The way she embodied Dickinson's rebellious, passionate life bursting to be free from the rigid evangelical corset of the Nineteenth Century. This woman knows her Emily. I believe she should get an academy for this. Davies too.
Disclosure: Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets. I studied her "easier" poems in high school. I had tried to read and understand her other poems and got blocked. I just didn't get them. So I ended up writing a play about She and St. Francis. (I found parts of him equally concealed). I researched Dickson for a year and read every biography, treatise, essay, article I could find on her. Read and sat with hundreds and hundreds of her poems. Visited her home in Amherst. Finished the play and then kept on reading. Friends would send me finds. Birthday gifts were punctuated with discoveries.
I started to find a portal into her work. I was stunned by its beauty. It's starkness. It's unflinching courage—ranging from the most detailed descriptions of the physical to the most ineffable metaphysics. Then I walked into this film and discovered its cinematic tellings matched my gleaned inner sense of Emily Dickinson. The relief, joy, and learning was/is immense. She has so much to teach us and Terence Davies has opened an important door into her soul.