LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 15-year-old girl from a fundamentalist Mormon family hears rock music for the first time and miraculously finds she's pregnant in "Electrick Children," the debut feature from writer-director Rebecca Thomas.
It sounds like a fantastical premise — and Thomas' film is filled with beautifully ethereal, dreamlike imagery — but it's also a universally relatable coming-of-age story. Sheltered Rachel (played with a lovely innocence by Julia Garner) flees her Utah compound and drives to Las Vegas, hoping to find the man whose voice on a cassette tape moved her so profoundly. And while she's exposed to a whole new world when she falls in with some musicians and street kids, she never loses her inherent sweetness.
Thomas herself was nice enough to choose five of her favorite coming-of-age movies. Here she is, in her own words:
"The Wizard of Oz" (1939): I watched this movie every day growing up. Dorothy has such a dreamy, fantastical adventure down the yellow brick road. It is really only through her kindness in befriending others that she learns to take control of her own destiny. I'm a sucker for the music, the sets, and for the big shift from black and white to Technicolor. I've even tried doing "Dark Side of the Rainbow" (watching "WoO" backward while listening to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album). It still reads as coming-of-age!
— "The 400 Blows" (1959): I watched this film when I was 19 and François Truffaut became a fast hero of mine. Deeming myself as Truffaut, I searched for an André Bazin to start a film club. I roped my brother and friends into making bad shorts with me, but that wasn't quite the same. Although I may never make a film as perfect as this, I find in it an invitation to make films about young people. Antoine Doinel, the 12-year old hero, is rebellious, smart, and three-dimensional. The ending at the beach is very literary which opened me up to a new kind of storytelling.
— "Clueless" (1995): This is my favorite high school movie of all time! It's a warm coming-of-age satire that takes us into the head of Cher Horowitz, an over-privileged Beverly Hills teen. Her modified Valley Girl voiceover narration is always justified and hilarious, and Cher is likable despite how self-centered she is. I can only watch this with people who are as obsessed with it as I am, because I am liable to quote every line. As if!
— "Akira" (1988): This is anime cyberpunk at its best. Rebellion is a huge part of this film. Student protests, gang warfare, Tetsuo's taking over the government, and Kaneda . Oh Kaneda! He might have to kill his friend to save the world! It's his coming-of-age that happens ultimately. I hope this gets successfully made into the live-action version. I've been tracking its progress (and lack thereof) forever now.
— "The Graduate" (1967): Mike Nichols' tale of the aimless college graduate Benjamin Braddock was the dissonant coming-of-ager that, like the rest of the films on this list, caught the spirit of the time and a spirit of rebellion. Benjamin would rebel by floating in a pool instead of becoming a doctor or lawyer. Simon and Garfunkel, a red convertible, and a seduction by Mrs. Robinson clearly make this a film for Rebecca Thomas.
Think of any others? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com/christylemire
"Electrick Children" on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ElectrickChild