Julia Garner and Rory Culkin shine in sweet, sensitive and surprisingly fun drama.
Released in cinemas 13th July 2012.
Immaculate conception via pop music - it's not your typical premise for an indie drama, but Rebecca Thomas' brave feature-length debut is sweet, sensitive and surprisingly fun.
Plucked from the Berlin Festival last year, Electrick Children uses Thomas' own experiences as a Mormon child and follows the much more surreal story of Rachel (a mesmerising Julia Garner), a 15-year-old girl from a fundamentalist Mormon community. Brought up on a ranch in Utah, Rachel lives under the strict rule of her father (Billy Zane) and it is clear, when we see her fascination with the dusty tape deck recording her birthday confirmation interview, just how out of touch with the modern world she is.
Intrigued by the prospect of hearing her own voice on playback, Rachel sneaks off to find the recording and, in doing so, stumbles across a curious blue cassette tape. When a cover version of The Nerves' 'Hanging on the Telephone' crackles through the speaker, Rachel is awestruck and when she falls pregnant, becomes convinced that the song has changed her - that God has used that little blue tape to perform a miracle. What's more, rather than scoffing at her increasing insistence that listening to the song has brought her a child, we begin to accept it too.
Frustrated by her suspicious parents' disbelief and terrified at the prospect of an arranged marriage, Rachel runs away to Las Vegas, eagerly befriending the first group of teens who stray into her path. Some enjoyable fish-out-of-water scenes follow the pretty slow start but it is the unlikely relationship between the naive but strong-minded Rachel and her new friend Clyde (Rory Culkin), the dropout skater kid, that is most engaging. One particularly tender scene, where Clyde and Rachel make a promise to one another, is both funny and heart-breaking, and expertly handled by Garner and Culkin.
Whilst there is always something of a question mark hovering over Rachel's pregnancy, Thomas isn't as concerned with the 'how' as she is the 'what next' - an approach which works well during these touching coming-of-age moments. As Electrick Children approaches its final third however, the narrative becomes all too coincidental and despite being a film with faith at its heart, the sugar-coated payoff fails to convince.
Electrick Children is an endearing tale performed by an incredible cast. Thomas delivers her ambitious concept with flair and, combined with sophisticated photography and a strong indie soundtrack, Electrick Children makes for captivating viewing. It's a strong platform for all involved too and we can't wait to see what else Thomas has up her sleeve.