Building your film around a song is a brave move. Particularly when the film involves Mormons. Being made pregnant by that song. But writer-director Rebecca Thomas' debut 'Electrick Children' balances its quirky premise with engaging drama, forming a palatable coming of age feature. Plus, it helps that its central motif is The Nerves' classic 'Hanging On The Telephone', popularised by Blondie.
In a rural Utah Mormon community, a young girl finds a cassette tape and experiences rock music for the first time. Rachel (Julie Garner) is overcome by the music and three months later, claims to have had an immaculate conception as a result. Her parents understandably question this and her father (Billy Zane) immediately arranges a marriage, causing Rachel to run away to Las Vegas in search of the man she heard on the tape to find out more about her miraculous pregnancy.
Electrick Children's interrogative opening carries an ominous undercurrent and a sense of foreboding, reminiscent of another recent film surrounding cults - 'Martha Marcy May Marlene', perhaps apt as Julie Garner also appears in the latter. Thankfully, this film veers away from the intense psychological drama of 'Martha Marcy May Marlene', opting instead for more of a wide-eyed, fish-out-of-water coming of age direction.
The film never quite finds its place however, strangled somewhat by its ludicrous premise and something of a meandering script. Yet the acting generally grounds 'Electrick Children' in a reality that almost makes Rachel's pregnancy believable - with strong performances from Garner, as well as Liam Aiken and Rory Culkin, interspersed between beautiful cinematography and the free-spirited soundtrack.
'Electrick Children' is out in UK cinemas through Revolver/Picturehouse today.