Half-Scottish, half-Peruvian director Lorraine Sutherland and her Pachamamas colleagues reel off a long list of inspirations for Emergence: David Lynch, Punchdrunk, Tadeusz Kantor, Wim Wenders, Abba, Kathakali dance drama, cabaret, myths and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time amongst others.
The result is a hodge-podge of poorly executed techniques that amounts to much less than the paltry sum of its parts. That, and an unmistakable air of drama students taking themselves too seriously, with unintentional comic effect.
A creepy female undertaker narrates a mother-daughter tale, in which single Finnish-born, Bogota-dwelling mum ships off young Agnes to England for a boarding school education. An ocean of water and resentment swells up between them until hearts are broken, literally, figuratively and repeatedly.
The three women also take turns crooning Abba songs, quoting nature programmes, semaphoring in slow motion, donning bird costumes and wrapping themselves in Christmas lights. “In case you’re wondering,” the narrator interjects at one point, “she’s listening to her heartbeat, she’s checking that it’s still beating, that it hasn’t stopped altogether.”
I’m afraid, by the end, I neither wondered nor cared.