My Name is Emily review: a teen road movie that’s well worth the mileage

Simon Fitzmaurice’s film unfurls in impressive, nested sub-narratives, along with the mildest hints of psychological autobiography

My Name is Emily
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Director: Simon Fitzmaurice
Cert: 12A
Genre: Drama
Starring: Evanna Lynch, George Webster, Michael Smiley, Martin McCann, Deirdre Mullins, Cathy Belton
Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins

This is the already-famous crowd-funded feature that Simon Fitzmaurice directed while enduring the unforgiving symptoms of motor neurone disease. A teen road-movie flavoured with self-help philosophies, the picture does not address his condition explicitly, but anyone familiar with Fitzmaurice's story will detect psychological autobiography. My Name is Emily is all about seizing the day.

The story unfurls in impressive, nested sub-narratives. The unbeatable Michael Smiley plays a motivational author who retreats into mania following the death of his wife and is dispatched to a rural mental hospital. Emily (Evanna Lynch), his daughter, ends up with decent, dull relatives in a suburban part of Dublin.

Eventually, after some taunting at school, she hooks up with Arden (George Webster), a good-looking fellow student, and persuades him to drive her across country in search of dad. They repel northern rapists. They indulge in some minor shoplifting. They come close to coming close. The cheeky camera catches much tea being poured from many pots.

My Name is Emily flits between two main registers (while briefly touching others along the way). Utilising airy voiceover from Lynch, layered with elegant photography by Seamus Deasy, the opening act seems much in thrall to Terence Malick. The central section, during which Arden and Emily potter through the fields, sends off more conventional odours. Both work well. Lynch (once Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter) has an angular eccentricity that suits the role perfectly. Webster wields the sort of cheekbones from which mainstream careers are launched.


It is hard to know how much of the relativistic philosophising we are supposed to take seriously. “A fact is just a point of view,” Emily says at several points. Is it? Maybe that’s just a point of view. Hang on. They’ve made us think. Which was probably the point. This is a strange, but easily accessible beast that deserves to do well.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist