Artwork by Chloe Leeson
I saw stills from Electrick Children before I saw the movie. I remember the pink lights and the carnival world I fell in love with. The movie didn’t disappoint the picture. Writer and director Rebecca Thomas manages to make a molasses-slow and often repetitive world captivating. This directorial debut is a virgin mary-like story about a mormon teenage girl named Rachel who is convinced she was impregnated by listening to a cassette tape. The song on the cassette is a Flowers Forever cover of “Hanging on the Telephone” and it is heard multiple times throughout the movie. This cover is both upbeat and a little off, like any cover, contributing to the dissonance that permeates the film.
One large theme tackled in the film is the role of religion. Although Rachel leaves her religious home, she remains devout and faithful. She prays often and insists that her pregnancy was immaculate conception. This point is often one debated by fans, although Thomas has said it was in fact immaculate conception and that she was trying to tell the story of Joseph accepting Mary. But religion is not just part of the plot, it is a tool for isolation. First Rachel is geographically and socially isolated within her small mormon community. Even in the community, she doesn’t seem to have close relationships. Mr. Will, a young boy in the community, is her only companion but he only follows her to clear his own name. Eventually Rachel travels to Las Vegas and is so small and alone in the big city. The lights of the city are her bright future, her soft nature, her modern enlightenment. Rachel discovers technology and makes her first real friends. Her religion is a novelty that makes her out of place it is also what draws people to her.
What I love most about the film is the day-dream quality of it all. Thomas creates a stillness that is almost undetected, until it is disrupted. Watching the film is almost the experience of watching many short films stitched together. All the colors and settings and people kept me drawn in even though the plot has no real gimmicks or suspenseful twists. I appreciate the subtlety, I love the honesty. It is the movie that best captures the eyes of a teenage girl, without being all about being a teenage girl. It makes me feel somewhere between small and big, and to me that is the comfort of watching a good movie.
Thomas’ directorial and screenwriting debut is visually stunning and showcases all of her artistic refinement, leaving many people wanting more. While in the past Thomas stated she was working on a New York thriller, it looks like that will be put on hold for now. Thomas is going to be directing the latest of the film adaptations of John Green books, Looking for Alaska. The script will not be hers, it will be the same writers behind The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns. I’ve only seen The Fault in Our Stars, but from that film I have hope that Thomas’ eye will elevate and truthfully create the teenage world featured in Green’s story. Looking for Alaska will be a highly anticipated return and, hopefully, a way to solidify Thomas’s place in the film industry.
By Chloe Arnold
Chloe Arnold is a 17 year old from California. She’s just now getting into the films of Jean-Luc Godard, but otherwise enjoys any sort of comedy. In the rare time she spends off Netflix she enjoys reading, rock-climbing and blogging. She also runs her own zine, funnywomen.