Sunday, March 24, 2013

Electrick Children: Movie Review

A unique approach to a teen pregnancy leads us down new but frustrating
and uncomfortable paths.

“Electrick Children” takes a story that’s been done before — a teenager raised in a religious community finds herself pregnant — and then proceeds to tell the story like you’ve never seen it before. It deserves credit for being unique. However that singularity can be hard to digest and accept. The film turns into a story that is impossible to interpret or understand; at times intriguing and other times frustrating. 2012

Directed by: Rebecca Thomas

Screenplay by: Rebecca Thomas

Starring: Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, and Liam Aiken

Rachel Angela McKnight (Julia Garner) was raised in a fundamentalist Mormon colony. One day she listens to a tape of music and gets moved by a recording of “Don’t Leave Me Hanging on the Telephone”. The next thing she knows, she’s pregnant. In her mind, this is obviously an immaculate conception, and not just that, but it was God himself who spoke to her through this song. Her strict parents believe otherwise.

The film starts getting strange when Rachel hits the road for Las Vegas. Yes, starts getting strange; it actually started out relatively normal. We meet slacker musician/skater types in Las Vegas, and things are definitely out of the ordinary when those guys are your only touch-point to reality, when they’re the voice of reason. But Rachel and her fellow traveler/fellow fundamentalist Mormon colony brother/probably not her baby daddy, Mr. Will (Liam Aiken), are supposed to be the protagonists, they are the ones that we are following on their journey of self-discovery.

These characters are curious constructions. They are not created out of real human beings who are relatable or likable; they are created out of ether that you can’t quite touch, or see, or understand. Rachel seems real enough, her motivations are clear, but it’s impossible to believe in her. Perhaps that’s how we’re supposed to approach her story in the film.

Another reviewer commented that the twists within the plot could not be predicted. I agree with that – at no point do you know what’s coming next. But that’s because they abandon the current thread for another one that wasn’t even in the corner of your eye. Stories get told and questions get asked but then different stories are told which answer unasked questions. And yet, on the third side of the coin, I understand why they do that. When you’re in the journey of your life, one road may lead you around the corner of a completely different one. Sometimes you have to abandon one question if you stumble upon the answer to a different one. It’s one thing to approach life like that, another thing to approach a film like that.

There’s a reason that it seems like the same movies are made over and over again. They’re familiar. And familiarity is comfortable. “Electrick Children” is uncomfortable. These filmmakers created something new and something unique. For the viewers who find themselves invested in the story, it will probably be unforgettable. But for the rest of us, we’re left with nothing to take away from this awkward experience.

Who Might Like This: People who seek out the most unique, independent movies; teenagers or older who are looking for coming-of-age films that are more mature in their presentation.

Similar Titles:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) - Uplifting teenage drama with humour, heart and soul.