Wild Nights with Emily was originally performed as a play at WOW Café in New York which, upon considering the frantically close feel of the film and the Drunk-History-esque
Wild Nights with Emily was originally performed as a play at WOW Café in New York which, upon considering the frantically close feel of the film and the Drunk-History-esque tone of its jokes, starts to make a lot of sense. But it’s not just a historical knee-slapper, and the poet isn’t the butt of the laughs. It’s a well-researched dissection (based on letters, documents and in-depth textual analysis) of the long-standing myth that one of our greatest poets, Emily Dickinson (played here by Molly Shannon) was a sexless and melancholic recluse. Writer-director Madeleine Olnek asserts — again, with solid documentary evidence — that Dickinson actually had a loving relationship with her sister-in-law.
Unimaginably, she had fun.
Narrated by Mabel Todd (Amy Seimetz), editor of the first posthumous collection of Dickinson’s poetry, much of the humor of the film comes from the tension of what we see happening and what Mabel tells her audience. An irreverent, winking comedy about the way society will create its own secrets, Wild Nights with Emily offers joy and companionship to a figure whose history was more conveniently presented to generations of readers as lonely.
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