Sunday, September 8, 2013

A ROTTEN TOMATO: Electrick Children


For a cinephile, there's nothing more disappointing than a film that fails to live up to its promise. Such is the case with Rebecca Thomas' directorial debut "Electrick Children". On the surface, it's quite the intriguing premise - a young Mormon girl Rachel (played by Julia Garner) becomes miraculously pregnant through rock and roll music and heads to Las Vegas to find the father of her child. Unfortunately, this gem of a concept doesn't flourish as it should.
When the film starts, we are introduced to various characters that lay the foundation for some interesting themes. The film gives us a fleeting glance at the prospects of a probing story examining coming of age, feminism, religion and general self-discovery. Unfortunately, the film often feels like a rough outline of a screenplay, as none of these are sufficiently developed. Take for instance Rachel's mother (played by Cynthia Watros), a housewife who obviously had an adventurous past and still longs for more. Watros' portrayal gives her much depth, but the narrative seems one step behind. Likewise, Julia Garner gives Rachel a layered performance that seems at odds with the film's indifferent writing. Her acting presence suggests someone who is smart and inquisitive, yet the narrative forces her to be so narrow-minded.
It's perhaps a case of focusing on the wrong characters then. Much of the film is dedicated to Rachel's brother, who is the one that accused of impregnating his sister. In choosing to have him accompany her on her Vegas road trip, the viewer expects significant character development. Disappointingly, his story arc is largely inconsequential.
As the film navigates its unusual plotline, you begin to realize that the film's ideas are not fully formed. How did she get pregnant? How does this new environment influence her sheltered past? The concept of the film could have been a complex psychological drama, but it plays out almost like mumblecore. None of the important questions are given satisfying answers and it makes for a pointless film. Without a clear direction, the journey becomes slow and dull.
In the end, one could give this film a passing grade for attempting something unique, but a good idea does not a good film make. The acting performances may be strong, but they don't make up for the film's thoroughly lackluster setup.

10 comments:

  1. I watched it today. I wish it had been the father as the dad all along.

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    1. I read comments on other sites from viewers that said it actually WAS rachel's stepfather, the mormon leader, that got her pregnant. They said the movie dropped very subtle hints that made them think this. I watched the movie twice and didn't realize this. But it makes sense if you think about the possible reasons that the stepfather might record statements from rachel. If you recall, he got a recording of her confirming that she practices chastity when he asks her. It could be that he does this to protect himself if people report what he did to her

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    2. I read comments on other sites from viewers that said it actually WAS rachel's stepfather, the mormon leader, that got her pregnant. They said the movie dropped very subtle hints that made them think this. I watched the movie twice and didn't realize this. But it makes sense if you think about the possible reasons that the stepfather might record statements from rachel. If you recall, he got a recording of her confirming that she practices chastity when he asks her. It could be that he does this to protect himself if people report what he did to her

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    3. To clarify, they are not Mormon like the Mormons of today. They are a separate sect of fundamentalists that live in closed colonies. Also, those recorded interviews were not made to cover himself about her chastity. Those interviews are conducted to find a person's worthiness and are in no way associated with the fact that her step father was raping her.

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    4. If you think about it, the man who impregnated her was obviously the father.
      The slightest hints were the biggest hints, every detail of this film counts, the way the boy sits on the father's chair at the end of the movie, the way Mr.will reacts when Clyde assumes that the mormon father is who impregnated Rachel. And how Mr.Will goes back because he knows now that he can since the step father will be gone.

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  2. That's the beauty of it. We as adults watching this movie from the outside know that through several hints (the recordings, missing nightgown, way he speaks to her, logic. etc) that the step father is the one who got her pregnant. But Rachel is the narrator, and because of this she is going to tell her story through her eyes. She has a sweet naive outlook to the world and maybe she was drugged or didn't understand sex at all, but for whatever reason she didn't know and therefore truly believed the imaculate conception, so that's what she's going to show us. She can't show us something she doesn't know. The ending was perfect in my opinion and if the blunt answer was given, it would destroy the simplicity, naive, beautiful and pure nature that this film takes on as a reflection of Rachel herself.

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  3. Creepiest movie ever

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