Emile review

When he's not mangling metal or wielding magic sticks, Ian McKellen puts in some astute character turns. As he does here, in Carl Bessai's nicely low-key, but drab tale of roots, responsibility and guilt. It's essentially Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, only hold the "Wild".

McKellen's Emile is a self-absorbed academic living in England who is invited back to his Canadian hometown after a lengthy absence to receive an honorary degree. Once there, he stays with his niece (Deborah Kara Unger) and her 10-year-old daughter (Theo Crane), who clearly resent his presence. As Emile slips into sepia-toned memories, we find out about the family tragedies in his past that he ran away from.

They're fairly predictable, mind, and Bessai's ponderous use of slo-mo gets us there all too, well, slowly. But at least the leads are watchable, McKellen's subtly developed friendship with Crane holding the interest however dull Bessai allows the (in)action to get.

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