Wild Nights with Emily | Chicago Reader

Wild Nights with Emily

Most biopics are not known for humor, but comedy frequently prevails in this sparkling indie based on the life of Emily Dickinson. Adapted by writer-director Madeleine Olnek from her 1999 stage play and incorporating recent scholarship and scientific research that debunks the long-held image of Dickinson (Molly Shannon) as a shy, chaste recluse, the movie lampoons 19th-century American mores and skewers the self-important writers and editors who couldn't hold a candle to the Amherst poet they so smugly patronized. Far from being self-effacing, this Emily knows her worth and struggles to overcome discrimination against female authors; she also gives herself unreservedly—if by needs clandestinely—to the girlhood lover who later became her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert Dickinson (Susan Ziegler). The supporting cast excels, with Amy Seimetz, Brett Gelman, Jackie Monahan, and Kevin Seal making the most of the well-tuned dialogue. But Dickinson's poems are hardly shortchanged: they appear throughout, inventively presented, revealing previously hidden facets of an extraordinary artist.



  • Madeleine Olnek


  • Molly Shannon
  • Amy Seimetz
  • Susan Ziegler
  • Brett Gelman
  • Jackie Monahan
  • Kevin Seal
  • Dana Melanie
  • Sasha Frolova
  • Lisa Haas
  • Casper Andreas
  • Marc Alan Austen
  • Guinevere Turner
  • David Albiero
  • Robert McCaskill
  • Margot Kistler
  • Cynthia Kaplan
  • Stacey Alyse Cohen
  • Darren Lee Campbell
  • Celeste Pechous
  • Joel Michaely
  • Lee Eon
  • David Meyers
  • Holly Battaglia
  • Ron Lynch
  • Jeremy Shane


  • Madeleine Olnek


  • Alex Peace
  • Anna Margarita Albelo
  • Anthony James Faure
  • Casper Andreas
  • David Albiero
  • David Moscow
  • Edwin Scharlau
  • Jasmine Presson
  • Jayne Baron Sherman
  • Jennifer Kriz
  • Jim Stephens
  • Julia Moser
  • Kunal Rajan
  • Lisa Franklin
  • Lise King
  • Madeleine Olnek
  • Max Rifkind-Barron
  • Missy Laney
  • Mohit Soni
  • Philippe de Calan
  • Rufus Parker
  • Todd Remis
  • Tony Clemente Jr.
  • Valeria Lopez

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