‘Emily’ reviews round-up: ‘Superb’ Emma Mackey is ‘a revelation’ as Emily Brontë

Emma Mackey’s new movie about the life of author Emily Brontë is out now in UK cinemas.

Set in 19th century Yorkshire, England, Emily is the directorial debut of Mansfield Park actress Frances O’Connor.

Most famous for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, Brontë died in 1848 at the age of just 30.

French-British actress Emma Mackey is best known for her roles in this year’s Poirot sequel Death on the Nile, Netflix’s hit teen drama Sex Education, and French period drama Eiffel.

The cast also includes Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House), Alexandra Dowling (The Musketeers), Amelia Gething (The Spanish Princess), Gemma Jones (Gentleman Jack), and Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty).

The official synopsis reads: “Emily tells the imagined life of one of the world’s most famous authors, Emily Brontë. It features Emily, a rebel and misfit who finds her voice and writes the literary classic Wuthering Heights.

“The film explores the relationships that inspired her – her raw, passionate sisterhood with Charlotte and Anne; her first aching, forbidden love for Weightman, and her care for her maverick brother whom she idolises.”

Emily premiered at last month’s 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, and arrives in cinemas across the UK today.

We’ve rounded up a spoiler-free selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch the movie:


“Anchored by Emma Mackey’s superb performance as the woman in question, the richly fictionalised tale acquaints viewers with the suffocated identity of a repressed young writer battling to take charge of her own story … Mackey is the revelation here. She effortlessly inhabits her role as the leading lady and is impeccably cast in a performance that highlights her character’s determination to flout the rules society has set in place.” ★★★★ – RTE


“As should be the case in any great period film, it’s all about the hats.” ★★★★ – Financial Times


“Brontë purists may quibble with the futzing of the timeline … But O’Connor’s well-modulated debut doesn’t pretend to be a faithful recreation of the facts of the Brontës’ lives. Instead it succeeds on a much trickier level, giving us a psychologically vivid Emily who did not write Wuthering Heights because a real-life romance unlocked her passionate nature, but whom we’d love to imagine having had such a grand affair, because she was always the woman with Wuthering Heights inside her.” – Variety


“By failing to commit to any certain source material, O’Connor’s writing never feels wholly coherent as it moves towards Emily’s premature death … If O’Connor’s aim was to recreate a British classic, she has surely failed to reach those lofty heights. Mackey shows further signs of promise, but she’ll be better off elsewhere.” ★★ – Empire


“Emma Mackey immerses herself into this role, capturing both Emily’s intensity and ferocity. Emily’s chief ally is William, and the chemistry between Mackey and Oliver Jackson-Cohen is magnetic on screen.” ★★★★ – Digital Spy


“Emma Mackey is splendiferous in this frequently scintillating and teen-friendly biopic about Wuthering Heights author Emily Brontë. That said, much about Frances O’Connor’s directing debut is disappointing.” ★★★ – Evening Standard


“It’s beautifully acted, lovingly shot, fervently and speculatively imagined, although Mackey’s portrayal, excellent as it is, may be smoother around the edges and less windblown than the real thing … This is a sensually imaginative dive into the life of the Wuthering Heights author: it is a real passion project for O’Connor, with some wonderfully arresting insights.” ★★★★ – The Guardian


“Having acted in the past in corset dramas, including 1999’s Jane Austen adaptation Mansfield Park, O’Connor clearly has a vision and she doggedly sticks to it. Arguably, Emily is a little too dour, a little too melodramatic, and the pacing sometimes drags.” ★★★ – Radio Times


Emily, pointedly, does not wallow in the misery we like to ascribe to her short and frequently tragic life. There is great buoyancy and humour in the film. Here the Yorkshire moors – so dark and stormy in Wuthering Heights – are an equal source of wonderment and solace. The camera swims in Mackey’s eyes, in bold and confrontational close-ups, while Abel Korzeniowski’s score is a battle cry of violins which, at times, deliberately overwhelms the dialogue.” ★★★★ – The Independent


Emily will be released in the US in 2023.

Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is available on Amazon.