Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-05-08
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Wild Nights with Emily offers new takes on Dickinson myths
by Matt Simonette

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

"Emily Dickinson wished to be published posthumously," says Mabel Todd ( Amy Seimetz ), the poet's editor, at one point in the new dramatic comedy Wild Nights with Emily. "'Posthumous' refers to a soul that wishes to more glory in the recognition after death than in life. It's the heaven of the literary world."

But Wild Nights with Emily illustrates how such posthumous appreciation implicates an artist's contemporaries for erasing those elements from their life story that they could not fathom.

And in the case of Emily Dickinson—played here by Molly Shannon—that erasure was a literal one, as the references to the great love of her life, her sister-in-law Susan ( Susan Ziegler ), were indeed physically erased from her poems.

The film sets out to destroy the myth of Emily as a reclusive spinster who never wanted to be published. Set in Amherst Massachusetts, where Emily resided with her sister in a home next door to their brother Austin ( Kevin Seal ) and his wife Susan, Wild Nights with Emily presents Emily and Susan as very much in love, with an ambitious Emily trying unsuccessfully to get published, never finding favor in her lifetime with the ( usually male ) literary editors who fail to comprehend her prose.

It takes a bit to get with the film's vibe. Wild Nights with Emily juxtaposes serious themes of forbidden love and female subjugation with comedic performance styles and direction that would be at home on The Office or Arrested Development. When Emily presents Susan with a love poem, Susan reads it, guffaws and asks disbelievingly, "'Sue forever more'? Do you think that speaks to a larger audience?"

What's most incredible about the film however, is just how well that juxtaposition works. One problem with traditional biopics is that filmmakers for obvious reasons want to be truthful to a story, but must condense and omit details, often leaving behind exposition-laden dialogue. That's not the case here.

Contemporary comedies now trade more in presenting characters in awkward social situations than depicting truly witty repartee. Director and writer Madeleine Olnek does indulge that awkwardness, but she unabashedly uses anachronistic dialogue and performances to highlight what were emotional truths, getting some genuine laughs—a story about Emily and some stray cats, or how Emily arrived at the final version of "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"—along the way.

But there are many serious and graceful, even heartbreaking moments as well; indeed, most of those belong to the married Susan, who in one scene watches from her window as the not-as-socially-bound Emily trysts with a local widow. It's left to Susan, in fact, to carry out Wild Night with Emily's painful finale.

Molly Shannon is excellent as Emily. At times she's oblivious to the implications of her writing, but you know she's not oblivious to the stunted emotions and limited intellectual curiosity of most people around her, save Susan. After an editor patronizes her work for three hours straight, Emily dryly responds, "Thank you for your surgery."

Wild Nights with Emily was obviously shot on a low budget, so don't go expecting Barry Lyndon-level production design or cinematography. But Olnek truly has accomplished something special here, mining the history of one of America's greatest poets and locating within it an energy that's ultimately both funny and sad, but best of all truthful.

Wild Nights with Emily opens in Chicago April 19 at Landmark's Century Center Cinema.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW Summertime brings out the big gunsâ€"to no one's surprise 2019-05-21 - Summer is heating up at the movies and thanks to Avengers: Endgame, things are off to a good start as far as ticket ...

Gay News

Lightfoot signs first executive order 2019-05-21 - In her first hours after being sworn in as the 56th mayor of the City of Chicago, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot signed her ...

Gay News

Lightfoot sworn in as Chicago Mayor 2019-05-20 - Attorney Lori Lightfoot became the 56th mayor of Chicago the morning of May 20. Accompanied by her wife and family, Lightfoot was sworn ...

Gay News

Van Ness, Gadsby at Chicago Theatre in June 2019-05-18 - LGBT celebrities Jonathan Van Ness and comedian Hannah Gadsby will be performing in separate shows at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., ...

Gay News

Honorary Pride Parade grand marshal named 2019-05-16 - PRIDEChicago has announced that the honorary grand marshal for this year's Chicago 50th Annual Pride Parade will be newly elected Chicago Mayor Lori ...

Gay News

Lightfoot names senior staff, finance positions 2019-05-15 - Mayor-elect Lori E. Lightfoot made the first announcement of key members of her administration's leadership team. The senior staff announced May 15 ...

Gay News

CEO to speak on food distribution issues 2019-05-14 - Beth Ford, president and CEO of Arden Hills, Minnesota-based Land O'Lakes, Inc., will speak on Thursday, May 23 at noon at a meeting ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Robin Roberts, 'Wicked Fun,' Fox shows, rock band Thunderpussy 2019-05-14 - Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts is receiving a special honor at the 2019 NBA Awards, Extra reported. Roberts will be honored with ...

Gay News

Windy City Times fundraiser to mark co-founder's 35 years in LGBTQ media 2019-05-14 - A celebration of Tracy Baim's 35th Anniversary in LGBTQ Media, hosted by Sharon Mylrea and a team of co-hosts, will raise funds for ...

Gay News

Actress Doris Day dies at 97 2019-05-13 - Iconic actress and longtime animal-rights activist Doris Day has died at 97, media outlets reported. USA Today noted that Day became a touchstone ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.