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Elisabeth Bartlett is blogging the festival scene from Cannes to Los Angeles.
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Rebecca Thomas' Debut Feature ELECTRICK CHILDREN Starring Julia Garner, Rory Culkin @ AFI Fest in Los Angeles

Stunning ELECTRICK CHILDREN is Rebecca Thomas' debut feature film, surprising as that may be. The movie tells the story of 15 year-old Rachel, played wonderfully by Julia Garner, who lives on a fundamentalist Mormon homestead in the Utah desert, just outside Las Vegas. On her 15th birthday Rachel must answer routine questions about her life, recorded on tape deck. Fascinated with the tape deck, later that night she creeps into the basement to find it. 

When she discovers a rock music tape next to the tape deck she holds the tape player up to her ear. As she sways to the music, we imagine for a minute what it would be like to be forbidden music. We appreciate each cord, bar, the singer's raspy serenade that speaks of another world far from this hushed, rehearsed, by-the-book land. A few months later Rachel finds out she's pregnant. The rock music made her pregnant! The singer's voice is God speaking to her, she got pregnant by immaculate conception while listening to the tape! Wait, what? Seriously?

This movie defies genre. As Rachel journeys through Las Vegas in her Mormon floor-length white nightgown, light blonde curls braided in two, along the way she infiltrates a band's posse: "Can I come with you?" Rachel hops into a dirty tour van that includes Clyde, played oh so well by Rory Culkin. "Clyde is perhaps the spawn of Satan. Then there's Johnny," Rachel speaks into her tape recorder later on. The click of the buttons and sound of tape playing, thick recorded voice journal entries serve as voice-over and powerful soundscape for the movie. Later, Rachel pulls aside Johnny at the skate park, and her pristine innocence reflects onto him. Just because he's scuffed, hungover, wearing dark clothing, smoking cigarettes, doesn't mean he's not innocent too. Rachel asks him about how he got into music. "I just learned power cords and that's it," he says simply. "Would you ever want to marry me?" She asks just as simply.

Besides defying genre the best thing about this movie is that you are on the edge of your seat the whole time. The pacing is so that you never know what's going to happen next; not to mention the whole immaculate conception thing. There's no way she's pregnant. Was the test wrong? How did she get pregnant? While you're dying to know the answer to these questions, simultaneously you feel Rachel's anguish that no one believes her immaculate conception. Is this movie a fantasy?

Thomas is one of 22 female directors at this year's AFI Festival, noted the moderator upon intro. 


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About Elisabeth

Bartlett Elisabeth
Blogging about the festival scene from Los Angeles

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