Critics' Pick

Electrick Children (R)

Drama 96 March 8th, 2013
By Ted Scheinman
Could there be music that stirs us so powerfully it might impregnate? This mad question drives Electrick Children, the debut feature from writer/director Rebecca Thomas that impresses not least with its delicate blendings: a Bildungs-romp that obeys all the Dazed & Confused unities, a religious thriller, an Arthur Miller-style indictment of communal extremism, and a curious celebration of faith. Rachel (Julia Garner, a marvel here) is a devout but sparkly 15-year-old living on a Mormon compound in nowheresville, Utah. One night, she creeps into the basement and discovers a bright blue cassette tape: a single by the Nerves. In this rock-epiphany moment, she feels something stir within-- and once her parents discover the pregnancy, Rachel screeches off in the family truck to avoid an arranged marriage. ("Marriage to Elijah Brooksby?! I don't even have to ask God to know that’s not right," Rachel says in a voice-over.) Rachel's quest to find the "father" of her child-- that mysterious voice on the tape-- leads her to Vegas, where she falls in with a throng of well-meaning burnouts, including Clyde (Rory Culkin), and Rachel's luminous purity keeps her strong through various skateboard hijinks and omnipresent ganja. (She eventually tracks down that generative voice, and it's not quite who she expects.) Thomas never plays Mormonism for cheap jokes (only for the occasional good one), perhaps because she was raised Mormon herself. Electrick Children juggles heavy things, with humor and sobriety in their proper, Book-of-Ecclesiastes turn. Best of all, Thomas has an aversion to the easy resolution—she knows precisely which mysteries to keep dangling.
Rebecca Thomas Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken, Billy Zane, Cynthia Watros Rebecca Thomas Phase 4 Films