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Emma's Shadow Movie Review

friend line ahlstedt kruse

“The Poor Little Rich Girl” is among the most familiar images on the silver screen. Mary Pickford first played her in a strange little film from 1917. Her only escape from her emotionally deprived life is through an accidental drug overdose! In 1936, Shirley Temple preferred the company of radio troupers Alice Faye and Jack Haley to benign neglect from Michael Whalen, her tycoon father. (The Depression twist in this one was the threatening presence of a sex maniac down the hall.) In 1982, Bridgette Anderson orchestrated her own kidnapping in Savannah Smiles. The 1988 Danish film Emma's Shadow explores many of these tried and true situations, but with a fresh, strong approach that helped it to become a prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Emma, beautifully played by Line Kruse, is the 11-year-old child of a wealthy couple who barely notice she's alive. She runs away and literally bumps into a sewer worker whom she adopts as her best friend on sight. Although he is an ex-convict and far from the brightest man in the world, Emma nonetheless adores him and starts cooking up a successful scheme to wring money out of her folks. She spends the money on an elaborate meal at a deluxe hotel, to be shared by her new friend and two little boys in the neighborhood. The boys pile into a bubble bath and Emma gazes worshipfully at her friend as he drinks himself silly. The in-joke here is that Emma's friend is played by Borje Ahlstedt, so good in Fanny and Alexander, who launched his career 25 years ago in the I Am Curious, Yellow and Blue films. Writer/director Soeren Kragh-Jacobsen treads a very fine line here, so that you're always aware of the underlying sensuality, but are relieved that it STAYS underlying. As in most films of this type, the child is the focal point throughout and Line Kruse delivers a wonderfully shaded performance as Emma. She is fiercely protective of Ahlstedt's character, seeing through his rough, bumbling exterior into the kind, decent, and considerate soul who is able to give her far more than her high-rolling but uncomprehending parents. Despite its award-winning status and excellent reviews, Emma's Shadow has yet to acquire the reputation it deserves in this country, but it's been given a new life on video. See it before a Hollywood studio turns it into a yucky American transplant. AKA: Skyggen Af Emma.

1988 93m/C DK Borje Ahlstedt, Line Kruse; D: Soeren Kragh-Jacobsen; W: Soeren Kragh-Jacobsen; C: Dan Laustsen. VHS

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