Film review: Electrick Children

Director: Rebecca Thomas
Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Liam Aitken, Bill Sage, Cynthia Watros, Billy Zane
3 stars
(out of 5)

Photo supplied.
Photo supplied.
There is a semblance of insider knowledge informing Electrick Children, a tale about breaking free from the constraints of a fundamentalist Mormon community.

First-time director Rebecca Thomas based elements of her script on episodes she experienced in her own closeted Utah upbringing.

Electrick Children is centred on Rachel (Julia Garner), a precocious teenager growing up in an isolated sect somewhere in the Utah backwaters. Dutifully observing the tenets of godly life delivered by her father Paul (Billy Zane), Rachel's life is thrown upside down when she discovers a tape recorder concealing a pop-song that transforms her very reason for being.

The tune is Hanging On The Telephone, a Blondie song from the '70s. This is where things turn from quirky to cosmic, as Rachel discovers she is pregnant and believes the conception was triggered by the tape.

Eloping, Rachel and her brother, Mr Will (Liam Aitken), head to the bright lights of Vegas to track down the singer. Falling in with a bunch of stoned skaters, the impressionable "prairie kids" are like two aliens beamed down to Earth.

With seismic shifts in tone and location that are barely signposted, its almost as if the editor forgot to include pivotal sequences.

Fortunately, the great on-screen chemistry between Garner and her skater chaperone Clyde (Rory Culkin) elevates Electrick Children beyond being a mere indie-curiosity to an imaginative mash-up of cultural dislocation and pop culture.

Best thing: Julia Garner's assured performance.

Worst thing: A tacked-on conclusion that feels as if it comes from another film.

See it with: Some suspension of disbelief.

By Mark Orton


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