Electricity movie review (London Film Festival)

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Electricity green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Model-turned-actor Agyness Deyn is strange and lovely in a visually innovative and dramatically unexpected tale of personal adventure.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Lily has epilepsy. But Electricity is as far from a film about disease or disability as you can imagine. Instead, for 30ish Lily, it’s just one more challenge in a life that has had more than its share of them. Childhood abuse that may have caused her condition is hinted at, which may also explain why her family is shattered and scattered. And yet Lily retains a resolute, almost steely kindness and optimism; from our initial introduction to her, at her cashier’s job in a casino in a seaside English town, the model-turned-actor Agyness Deyn (Clash of the Titans) effortlessly imbues her with a strange and lovely quality that somehow combines likability with aloofness: you want to hug her, but you refrain because you know she probably wouldn’t want it.

Electricity is an adventure of sorts for Lily, as she heads to London in an attempt to find her brother, whom she hasn’t seen in years, after their mother dies and there’s a bit of an inheritance to share. The audacity of her task — trying to find a human needle in an urban haystack, with little to go on — is immense, a job made all the bigger by how it gets her out of the comfort zone of her life and forces her to confront new people, many of whom, she imagines, will inevitably be weirded out by her condition.

Nothing here is what you will expect, from the acts of kindness — both offered and accepted — that don’t work out quite like they might, to Lily’s unique vulnerability bringing a new dimension to women’s experience of the world, to how director Bryn Higgins represents on the screen Lily’s perspective as a seizure hits: a narrowing of visual focus, a sparking of electricity. There isn’t a word for it: nether trippy nor hallucinogenic are quite right. Perhaps the fact that only epileptic seems right to describe it highlights how innovative Higgins is here.

viewed during the 58th BFI London Film Festival

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