Film Review: Electrick Children (2012)
A delightful indie film, Electrick Children is a coming-of-age film with some strange twists. It never tires you even when it intersperses dramatic often funny situations with silent shots. The undertone of religion is treated maturely and yet you get a highly original and enjoyable film which acts both as a cultural dissection of contemporary America and an entertaining ethnic comedy.
This film begins on a somber note reminiscent of the church-scenes in ‘There will be Blood.’ You see Billy Zane (Titanic) doing his best Billy Zane impression and playing creepy dad to 15-year-old Rachel. Young Rachel has a creepy brother, Mr. Will, who looks straight out of Lord of The Rings minus the wizardry, but a caring mom who has a past. The past is not thankfully revealed through dark sequences of emotional outbursts but a recurring dreamy shot of Utah outback and a shiny Red Mustang. They live in a sheltered Mormon colony on the outskirts of Las Vegas which seems like a different planet altogether.
Rachel is pregnant and believes that she’s had an immaculate conception after listening to an off-limits rock and roll tape. She runs away to the Las Vegas in search of her child’s father and unearths some pretty unpleasant facts about herself and realizes that she does not want to continue living in a separatist community. She meets Clyde, a textbook junkie (good for nothing, hard exterior with a soft heart) and a bunch of other musicians and assorted characters.
This is director Rebecca Thomas’s first feature film and I am sure that she will mature into a strong voice in the world of indie cinema. This movie often turns the objectification of women on its head; for example, in one of the earlier scenes, Rachel is seen in her underwear searching for her night gown. When her mother locates it for her, she mentions that it has become quite short. Later, in the scene where Rachel listens to the forbidden music, the camera lingers on her legs as an erotic object which evokes the male gaze that ultimately leads to her impregnation. This sequence is quite unusual and highlights the exploitative male gaze.
Fate and coincidence play a very large role in moving the plot ahead which sticks out like a sore thumb; the resolve is vaguely spiritual and ambiguous. It almost feels as though the director took an easy way out instead of letting the story actually pan out. The bland father daughter reunion and the hastily put together rescue scene were seemed contrived and awkward. Toward the end, the actions and emotions of characters failed to ring true.
Despite the structural flaws, Electrick Children still manages to hold its own. Its superb sense of humor the beautiful night shots of neon lights and hilarious road film elements are quite engaging. And the strongest point of the film is its non judgmental narrative; while watching it I didn’t feel that I was being convinced or persuaded about anything. This is definitely the strongest point of this film. It works by both entertaining and challenging the viewer.
Director: Rebecca Thomas
Stars: Julia Garner, Rory Culkin and Liam Aiken
Production Co: Live Wire Films