“Electrick Children” and “How I Live Now” are Survivalist at Core

These films pose creative and enduring women at the heart of the survival story that is life.
These films pose creative and enduring women at the heart of the survival story that is life.

I’ve always admired the cinematically odd when it comes to the film industry, and it may come as no surprise that I am watching more and more of them due to my brother’s Netflix subscription and my own procrastination. There is something to be said about weird-ass movies, and just how brilliantly they portray the confusion, the intricacy, and at times the futility of life. This review is part of The Eclectic Collection.

Electrick Children

Starring Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken, Bill Sage
Clyde and Rachel have a heart-to-heart, though he still has his doubts about her character.
Clyde and Rachel have a heart-to-heart, though he still has his doubts about her character.

Summed up in a one sentence, Electrick Children is about a Mormon teenager named Rachel (Julia Garner) who is convinced she is pregnant with the son of God after listening to a rock-‘n’-roll cassette tape, and goes to Vegas to find the father. Crazy, right? But really, it’s amazing.

Rachel lives in a Utah community with her multiple siblings and mother, and her (unbeknownst to her) stepfather, who is the local pastor. On the day of her fifteenth birthday, she is rifling through the basement and finds a cassette.

“But then I felt something… a special kind of feeling that leads you to a specific direction… and then I found it…”

Suddenly Rachel is gripped with this yearning that engages her every thought. When she starts missing her periods despite her denial of sexual intercourse, Rachel is dragged into an arranged marriage. But then Rachael says, “F*ck that, I’m outta here.” Or something like that, and she ditches Nowhereville.

Problem is, her brother sets off to find her and bring her home.

There are so many great things about this movie–the characters, the quality of acting, the angle, the pure quirk and the incredible quaintness being the ones I can think of at this moment. The cast is great, though Garner shines the brightest, and her chemistry with Rory Culkin (Clyde) is absolutely adorable. And the film’s low budget doesn’t hurt. In fact, it is the best thing to happen to this film–it forces the directors to focus on the writing, and not the special effects or the crazy background or hiring a bunch of models as cast members. The people and the locations seem real. It seems like you could be this girl.

I mean, just look at this.

What’s so compelling about this movie is the tone. Let me try to explain the feeling:

You are sitting in the bathtub. All alone. The water was steaming hot twenty minutes before, but now your lower half tingles pleasantly as you lay back against the cool porcelain. This is the first bath you’ve taken in a year, maybe more. Unbidden, scenes of rubber ducks and Mother’s hands appear in your mind, as well as the memory of Dad enveloping you in a warm towel. And suddenly you are happy. You sink further into the water and smile.

See what I mean?

I will only say one thing: I wish the ending was more concrete. I won’t give away the ending, but cliffhangers and unanswered questions are not cool, guys. Not cool.

How I Live Now

Daisy (right) guides her young cousin Piper through the woods to get back home.

There are many dystopian stories out there. None are quite like this.

Forced abroad in the midst of a a futuristic World War III, American Daisy is determined to rebel against her family and the terrifying situation she’s been placed in. Daisy doesn’t like to talk or play with her cousins. She refuses to let herself go. In fact, her bitchy commentary and “I don’t really care” attitude is pretty much the intro to the movie. But behind that exterior lies a recovering anorexic who doesn’t really know what family is, or what it means to be part of one. Her self-preservation soon crumbles when she develops a connection with her eldest cousin Edmond, and as their relationship blossoms into love, we think maybe there is hope for our once-pompous Yank after all.

Of course all this changes when a bomb goes off in nearby London, and the girls and boys are separated for safety purposes. Determined to come back, Daisy and her little cousin Piper must escape their surrounding and make the long trek home.

I cannot understand certain things about this movie, though. I will try to explain one instance. The tone is wonderfully empyrean at times, even as the grime and death protrudes from the dirt. But the contrast between Apocalyptic Punk and  Country Paradise is too weak to make the impression the director is hoping for. Daisy’s world is little known to the audience; in fact, we only have her as an example of what America looks like during this frightening period. I guess I’m trying to say that I want more–more death, more punk, more Armageddon.

Warning: Some people might be a little creeped out by certain parts of this movie, as there is cousin ‘incest’ (cousincest?) But hey, if it’s good enough for Mary and Matthew Crawley, it’s good enough for Daisy and Edmond.

Overall, I was pretty pleased–it’s definitely worth the watch. See the trailer for yourself:


Electrick Children:


NYT review

Electrick Children| Film Review

How I Live Now:

Roger Ebert’s review

How I Live Now could be the year’s most brutal apocalyptic film

How I Live Now: “It’s too dark for America.”


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