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There has been a lot of hype about Rebecca Thomas’ debut film Electrick Children. Released in the UK just over a week ago, the film is set on a Mormon colony in Utah. Based around 15 year old protagonist Rachel, the story follows a strange course of events as she moves from her sheltered home life to the brash lights of modern day Las Vegas.
On her 15th birthday, Rachel (Julia Garner) is interviewed about her beliefs. She testifies an affirmative to all questions regarding her dedication and loyalty, but is distracted by the electric tape player that is recording what she is saying. The tape is meant to show the colonies distaste for technology and Rachel’s isolated existence; however, it also gives the film a slightly dated feeling despite its contemporary setting.
Slipping out in the dead of night, Rachel finds the recorder and in it, an unmarked blue cassette. Putting it to her ear, she presses play and becomes absorbed in a cover of Blondie’s ‘Hanging on the Telephone’. Cut to a few months later, and Rachel realises she is pregnant. She believes that the Holy Ghost has given her the baby through the voice on the cassette tape, creating a slightly odd narrative twist. This development leads Rachel to flee the colony and end up with a group of grungy teens in Las Vegas. The final few scenes are unashamedly coincidental and bring the story to a slightly unbelievable close.
Thomas both wrote and directed the film. She’s put together a strong cast and a very dreamy film that does, if nothing else, keep you guessing until the end. The atmosphere is very similar to the recent Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene (where Garner also had a small part); however, the dealings with content are more naive and unrealistic. Thomas is drawing on personal knowledge of Mormon rituals; however, the outlandish nature of the story carries the observations too far from a comparable reality. This is a shame as it could have tipped the film from being an intriguing watch to being something bordering on sensational.