A Blanket of Love

'Somersault' is so beautiful and packed with feelings that it's perfect

One of my favorite unnamed genres (which I will now name) is the emofilm. While, in an expanded sense, any film about teens and their feelings is an emofilm, I think only the largely plotless or meandering films that focus tightly on the feelings of a single character, and that use visual textures and moody music in place of story, should qualify.

So, Morvern Callar will be the classic emofilm, and Somersault the latest entry. That said, Somersault is an excellent emofilm, in the way that the Treaties of Münster and Osnabrück are an excellent way to establish the nation-state as the highest level of government. Here's the basic plot:

Heidi kisses her mom's boyfriend and then mom sees it and then Heidi runs away to a blue-tinted, mountainous land where she meets a boy and then he leaves so she thinks about maybe becoming a truckstop whore but then she finds a cuter boy but he's a little withdrawn but then she loves him and then she gets a job but the girl she works with is maybe not so friendly but then she seems friendlier and maybe they'll be friends and she stays at a motel with the nice motel lady who makes her tea and also the cute boy has a neighbor who's gay and who has a dead dad and also Heidi's friend has a brother who has autism which is sad but also beautiful and then the cute boy with the gay neighbor maybe loves Heidi back and then there are feelings and pretty pictures and dancing in the wintry air at the base of a ski-resort mountain and then she's so pretty and he's so pretty you just want to die but they act like teenagers which makes sense because they're in their teens and she says "I like holding hands with you" and he says "Yeah, I know. But I'm not a big hand holder."


Somersault is so super-pretty on every level that it made me feel too inadequate to even take a shower with soft mood lighting while contemporary post-folk indie music played. First of all, Abbie Cornish, who plays Heidi and is the feelingfocus of this emofilm, could probably kill most heterosexual men and lesbians just by showing them her nipples, which she does frequently in this film. She has the kind of flawless skin that makes airbrushers throw down their airbrushes and just weep and weep and weep. Her eyes were carved from a rock found only on Mount Olympus, and when they were placed in her head, and she stared at the sky, all of the pagan gods leapt to their deaths rather than face the possibility of ever having to gaze upon anything with less depth and majesty and beauty.

And Sam Worthington, who plays Joe, the cuterest boy in the world who maybe loves her, is so handsome that Tom Selleck, Cary Grant, Brad Pitt and Gary Cooper were all actually beta versions of him. Worthington's cheekbones are used to make the ultrafine cuts needed for preparing slides for viewing in a scanning electron microscope. Plastic surgeons sometimes just rub Worthington's sandpapery cheeks on their patients in lieu of a facelift, and those receiving the treatment are then so filled with prettiness that many of them go on to become United Nations goodwill ambassadors.

And the visuals in Somersault aren't limited to Worthington and Cornish's preternatural beauty. The film is shot in the snowy mountains of Australia, and if Paul Hogan had led you to believe that nothing beautiful could ever come out of Australia, well, then you haven't seen that continent's snowy mountains. Director Cate Shortland and cinematographer Robert Humphreys have captured the landscape of Canberra and Jindabyne and the Snowy Mountains (that's their actual name: Australians are tell-it-like-it-is people, which is why they made Gallipoli and Young Einstein) with as much precision as they captured the landscapes of Worthington and Cornish's bodies.

Also, and quite shockingly, there's only one howlingly bad line of dialogue in this film ("Did you ever see a woman spray perfume in the air and then walk through it? Heidi's like that. When you leave, you still feel her on your skin.") Most of it does a painful and perfect job of capturing the speech patterns of a youngster in love for the first time.

Of course, it's not an emofilm without some kind of emo-esque soundtrack. In this post-emo age, the role of emomusic has descended upon the shimmering sounds of the super-soft indie bands like Goldfrapp and The Shins and The Aislers Set. None of their songs are in this movie, but if you sort of combine and soften and prettify their sounds, you'd get Decoder Ring, who did the original music. It's perfect in its feeling-formulation and emotion-orientation, which only makes sense, because feelings have to be perfect, because they're feelings, and there's no wrong way to feel.

Which I guess makes Somersault perfect, since it not only is about feelings; it actually is feelings. So if you want to see an emofilm (and if Aristotle is right, we all want to see emofilms), you should wrap yourself in a warm, hand-knitted blanket and nuzzle against the shoulder of your only true love who you love so deeply that it must be true, and watch Somersault as it rolls across the screen like a wave of emotion, taking with it all of your fears and insecurities and needs and spreading them like a blanket of love on the beach of life.

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