Some, but not all of the bright, talented kids who got their big break in the Harry Potter movies have built careers after hanging up their wands.
So it’s nice to see that there’s life after Luna Lovegood for Evanna Lynch. The diminutive Irish actress, sort of a soulful pixie in the Potter films, makes the most of one last shot at playing a teenager in “My Name is Emily.”
It’s Irish, so there’s a romantic/literary bent to it and the titular heroine who narrates her story. More to the point, it’s a coming-of-age picture/road romance about a girl, her philosopher father and the boy she talks into helping her find him.
Emily, one and all seem to agree, isn’t like other children. Elementary school kids pick up on her bookishness, her odd relationship with swimming, reality and authority.
“They called me a WEIRDO,” she whines to her dad (Martin Smiley).
“They’re right.” Being a teacher himself and a philosopher who will eventually take Ireland by storm with his book, “Swimming and Sex,” he then explains the definition of “weirdo” and tells her to wear it with pride.
Years later, her mother’s died, she’s living with foster families and missing her dad. But Emily can still bring the weird. Teachers, befuddled by her refusal to follow instructions (the smart teen has her reasons), demand “What’s WRONG with you?”
Classmates have moved on to call her “freak.”
But here’s how the fifth prettiest girl in class gets the attention of the tall, dark and handsome Auden (George Webster). She refuses to break down a poem by Wordsworth into its component parts.
“When you cut something up, you kill it.”
Auden, being named for a poet, is smitten.
Lynch and Webster give their characters an aching awkwardness, so that we can’t quite tell if Emily is rebuffing his little kindnesses/romantic entreaties. We can’t quite pick up on why Auden would stand for it.
And we’re as surprised as him when she shows up at his door, announces she’s “leaving, right now,” to find and rescue her father, and wants him to accompany her. But he does.
Up to this point, “My Name is Emily” is meditative, writerly. First-time feature director Simon Fitzmaurice fills the soundtrack with Emily’s narration, about her childhood, her mother and especially her father. Images of the teen holding herself under water as she ponders the universe (And suicide?) blend with flashbacks.
“If you hide from death, you hide from life.”
And then “My Name is Emily” becomes something far more conventional, a road picture. The kids hitchhike, drive and shoplift their way across Ireland, having fairly conventional (melodramatic) encounters with locals, coming to quite conventional conclusions about each other.
There’s not much to its second half, but the picture makes the most of a big romantic gesture or two and finds an excuse to drag out the trek over a full weekend so that we can see the windswept coast and rolling, bare hills between the bogs of rural Ireland.
And the winsome Lynch, narrating her story and irresistibly (to Auden) poker-faced in her dealings with the outside world, makes a heroine worth knowing and following to the ends of Ireland, with or without a wand.
MPAA Rating:unrated, adult situations, violence
Cast: Evanna Lynch, George Webster, Michael Smiley
Credits:Written and directed by Simon Fitzmaurice. A Monument release.
Running time: 1:33