Electrick Children Movie Review
Raised in an cloistered religious community in Utah, Rachel (Garner) has just turned 15 and believes that she's pregnant because she listened to some illicit pop music. Her parents (Watros and Zane) think otherwise, blaming her brother Will (Aiken) for this "immaculate" conception. But instead of face an arranged marriage to a stranger, Rachel runs off with Will to Las Vegas. There they meet Clyde (Culkin), a young rocker who challenges everything they've been taught and changes the way they see the world.
The running gag is that Rachel is convinced that she's going to have a virgin birth, just like Mary. Which of course no one believes for a second. She's looking for the baby's "father", the man who sang the song on the tape (a karaoke rendition of Blondie's Hanging on the Telephone), and along the way she's taken in by the charms of Clyde's rocker buddy (Amedori). It takes a bit longer for her to realise that it's Clyde who really cares for her.
Meanwhile, Will is on a journey of his own, confronting his deeply held beliefs with the reality of the big bad world. Thomas writes and directs this with real sensitivity, keeping the camera up close and intimate to allow Garner and Aiken to create darkly introspective characters. Their joint and separate odysseys are warmly involving, as are subtle performances by Culkin, Watros and Zane, plus Sage as a man in a red Mustang, a recurring theme in Rachel's mythology.
There are moments when we worry for the naive Rachel and Will, and yet they continually surprise us with their inner strength and honest curiosity. So it's a bit frustrating that Thomas sends the plot down a few over-written roads, as coincidences and contrivances unravel the film's organic moodiness. And as everything builds to a rather overworked climax, we wish Thomas would have had the confidence to maintain the quietly unnerving tone from the film's earlier scenes right to the end.