After Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), another take on the alternative reality of spiritual outcasts is presented by first-time director Rebecca Thomas in Electrick Children (2012).
15-year old Rachel (Julia Garner), living in a fundamentalist Mormon community in Utah, breaks the rules set by her pastor father (Billy Zane) and listens to the ‘forbidden blue tape’. The song on it is a cover of one of the Blondie’s hits and seems to the young girl something enchanting, magical even. Magical enough to get her pregnant. That’s right – Rachel is convinced that the song caused an immaculate conception and that she was chosen by God like a Virgin Mary to give birth to a new prophet.
The parents hardly believe in the role of the ‘God’s Vessel: The Record Deck’ and send away Rachel’s cousin, accusing him of rape. When the girl finds out that, in addition to the false accusation, she is also to be married to the boy from her community the following day, she steals her mother’s car and drives to LA, in search of the father of her baby – the man who sang the forbidden song. Her cousin, hiding in the back of the car, becomes her only companion. She goes where she hears the music and finds a group of skateboarders, with charming Cody (Rory Culkin) among them. Silly and naïve, doe-eyed Rachel is nevertheless surprisingly resolute and finds her place among the teenage LA misfits. Here, the interesting story gets a little out of hand, and becomes a series of totally unrealistic ‘lucky coincidences’ leading to the ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ ending.
Filled with pretty images, the movie is still a bit stale and slow, although the actors are interesting, Rory Culkin in particular, as a lost, yet immensely good kid, who is willing to help Rachel (there is something about them Culkins). A film about the inability to fight your destiny, with a good start, but poorly executed at the end.