“Wild Nights with Emily,” opening April 19 at the Landmark Ritz at the Bourse, is a comic look at the relationship between reclusive poet Emily Dickinson (Molly Shannon) and her lover and sister-in-law, Susan (Susan Ziegler), in 1860 Amherst.
The film opens with the two women kissing courteously before embracing far more passionately. Lesbian writer/director Madeleine Olnek — adapting her play — has an agenda to debunk the myth that Dickinson was (as an end title card indicates) “a half-cracked, unloved recluse who was afraid to publish her work.”
In working from this revisionist approach to Dickinson, Olnek’s PG-13 film is deliberately more mild than wild. But it does show Emily’s love affairs as well as her frustrations about not being able to achieve great(er) success as a poet in her lifetime.