Of rock ‘n’ roll Mormon escapees: Why you should see Electrick Children...
After a slew of high praise on the festival circuit, Rebecca Thomas's directorial debut Electrick Children reaches (selected) cinemas in the UK. A look into the kind of religious group that many find hopelessly outdated, the film draws influence from Thomas's own Mormon upbringing.
However, in a recent post-film Q&A I caught, the director claimed that hers was far removed from the backward fundamentalism depicted.
Amiable but visibly nervous, she explained how she conceived the film on a bizarre sounding Mormon-mission to Japan, and drew on an encounter with fundamentalist Mormon communities in Southern Utah she had while making a film-school documentary.
The movie's plot - a pregnant teenage girl escapes from a sect in search of rock ‘n' roll and the bright lights of Las Vegas - could, in more cynical hands, have been made a much more unpleasant film.
Under Thomas's treatment however, the coy naïveté of the young cast is played up, giving the film a shiny gloss that borders on feel-good. Nostalgia and idealism certainly loom large, particularly in the sub-plot in which fellow teen Clyde (played by Rory ‘brother-of-Macaulay' Culkin) abandons his suburban parents for punk rock, but comes back to raid the fridge.
While the innocence of lead character Rachel (Julie Garner - who impressed in last year's Martha Marcy May Marlene) in her pursuit of what feels like classic Americana can at times border on indie tweeness, her performance on the whole is pretty commanding, especially considering that she landed the part only a week before shooting.
Billy Zane's presence as Rachel's father also adds a bit of weight to a production that feels youthful, but refreshing.
Electrick Children is in cinemas from 13th July. To read reviews, click here.
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