An unassuming, engaging take on the determined struggle of a blind woman to become a mother, “Six Points About Emma” is equally convincing as drama and as an exploration of the emotional consequences of sightlessness. Politically correct but not too earnest, sensitive yet not sentimental, and centered on a fine perf from Veronica Echegui, Roberto Perez Toledo’s debut more than compensates for its flaws with an easy, natural air. The pic’s main constituency will be intelligent, thoughtful teens, but there’s plenty for more mature auds to enjoy. “Emma” deserves to see fest play, and signals Perez Toledo as a talent to watch.
Emma (Echegui) is 29, but understandably, given her circumstances, emotionally younger. She is first seen dumping her partner because he’s been unable to get her pregnant. Having given up all hope of having a normal relationship, she’s now convinced she’s incapable of loving anyone, but is still obsessed with the thought of having a child.
Emma lives with her friend Angela (Mabel del Pozo) and Angela’s brother Diego (Fernando Tielve, “The Devil’s Backbone”), who clearly fancies her. Emma attends group-therapy sessions, recorded fly-on-the-wall style, and attended by the likes of paraplegic Lucia (Mariam Hernandez), who has taken the plunge into romance and called a dating agency; and childlike Ricky (Nacho Aldeguer). The group’s confessional meetings are intense, but also generate most of the pic’s humor.
Group psychologist German (Alex Garcia) also fancies Emma. The two start a relationship, but little does Emma know that the apparently charming German is married and that, safe in the knowledge she’s blind, he’s videotaping their sex. He doesn’t know that Emma, concerned only with having a child, is using him, too.
Echegui (Iciar Bollain’s “Kathmandu”) tackles a challenging role head-on, playing Emma as smiling but ever-so-slightly manic under the pressure of her insecurities. Other cast members are drawn from Spanish TV shows, and seem to revel in the compassionate, thoughtful script, which finally gives them some meaningful work to do.
Pic’s biggest plus is its ability to get across its characters’ alternative view of reality — significantly, the helmer is himself wheelchair-bound. The film is studded with well-observed moments that open up the truth of being surrounded by patronizing people. For example, when someone asks Emma how blind people tell the difference between salt and sugar, she replies, “You put your finger in and taste it.”
The clumsiest scenes have Emma unburdening her insecurities via largely redundant monologues to a man calling the help line where she works; Echegui is a strong enough thesp that most of what she says about herself during these scenes is already clear.
Editing is sharp, making a key contribution to the pic’s increasing dramatic and moral intensity over the final reels. David Cordero’s piano-based score is restrained and effective. The title, wittily incorporated into the pic’s six-part structure, refers to the six points used to form Braille letters.