Director: Rebecca Thomas
Starring: Julia Garner, Liam Aiken, Billy Zane, Cynthia Watros
Written by Nazeer Vawda
The only reason I watched ‘Electrick Children’ is because the director, Rebecca Thomas, is adapting one of my favourite books, ‘Looking for Alaska’. I won’t put my thoughts on that in this review, however, as I can go on for ages about why it’s not a very good idea.
This film follows a fifteen year old Mormon girl, Rachel (played by Julia Garner), who believes a cassette tape has impregnated her, and she sets off on a road trip to find the voice from the tape. I was hoping that the ridiculous plot would make for an entertaining film at least, and at times it is, but for the most part it is just a generic romantic film.
The worst thing about Thomas’ film is easily the script, as it doesn’t entirely know what it wants to be, or who it wants to appeal to. The film starts out quirky, and interesting, staying that way for the first act, but once it reaches the second, it devolves into a generic romance with a male lead who has as much depth as those characters that gets killed off at the start of a horror movie. This mainly is because of Rory Culkin’s Clyde, a very poorly written character. We never know much about him, and even though Culkin tries to give the character depth, he just isn’t developed enough for us to care; I know nothing about who he was or what he does. This makes his characters’ “transformation” more confusing and driven with far less impact than it should be. That being said, Culkin does well with what he had, and makes it at least interesting to watch, plus he retains good chemistry with Julia Garner.
Garner also gives a strong performance, though it helps that she has an interesting character; she genuinely manages to make the audience believe that she really does think she was impregnated by a cassette tape. Liam Aiken gives a very good performance as well, in support. Thomas’ script could have been improved greatly by retouching the dialogue, which serves as an extremely weak component of the piece. It also has a lot of downtime during the second act, where nothing interesting happens; frankly it just starts to bore, and I feel that it could have been neatened up a little, which would have made the film a lot more enjoyable.
The script tries to be dark at times, but it never fully goes there; it does imply some things (I can’t be more specific as it’d spoil the end), but the implications are very vague, and seldom in providing resolution. I do like the fact that some things are left open to the viewer, but we don’t have nearly enough information to make a proper, informed decision. The film does have some things going for it, and the biggest is the cinematography. This film was gorgeous; it was shot digitally, but until I actually checked, I thought it was shot on 35mm, which is a huge bonus for me, as I love the grainy look. It has a close up style, much like ‘Short Term 12’, and it works well here too, enhancing the picture by using a lot of colorful lighting which just makes the film look a great deal better. It also has a pretty good soundtrack, cycling through quite a few genres, but mostly staying put in rock – so if you like rock music. I guess you’ll like the soundtrack. It fits the film well, and makes for a good listen if you like the genre (I’m not too big on rock myself, but there are a few tracks that I quite like).
So, thats about it. ‘Electrick Children’ is flawed, but is an interesting story with strong performances and a silly, yet intriguing plot to keep the film afloat, even if it is a little bloated.