ELECTRICITY [2014]

Electricity-Poster

Directed by Bryn Higgins, Written by Joe Fisher (screenplay), Ray Robinson (novel)

Starring: Paul Anderson, Christian Cooke, Lenora CrichlowAlice Lowe and Agyness Deyn

“Temporal lobe epilepsy can be best described as a thunderstorm raging inside the mind” – my doc

Wow, if ever I could have the perfect two movies to identify with, one after the other, it was the last movie I saw, Infinitely Polar Bear, and a British drama by the name of Electricity. An apt title for a film if there ever was one. The tone of the two films couldn’t be more different though. One is a tale of redemption, a man trying to win his family back while struggling with bi-polar disorder in a time where it wasn’t understood like it is today. This however is a much more bleak, depressing film that reminded me of Trainspotting more than once as a girl with epilepsy is forced to live under the constant dread that she will have a seizure. She is trying to find her brother, who she hasn’t seen since he was taken to juvie when she was 17, and she has never left the safety of her small town where she has people who understand her condition. However, their mother has died, and there is money to be divided up. Hence Lily’s desperate journey to find her lost brother.

The best thing about this film is that the epilepsy isn’t all this movie is focusing on. It is actually used as an inventive way to create tension….. Sometimes an oncoming seizure is predictable, but this seems intended at times, as the threat of another seizure constantly looms over the Lily’s  journey and effectively puts you in the position she is. Dread looms constantly over her journey, which is apt as one of the worst symptoms of TLE that I have experienced is exactly that: a consistent sense of dread. When she does have a seizure, the sound numbs, the visuals distort, and on occasion she will narrate what she is thinking, which is completely opposed to her behaviour, which she now does not have control over. Seizures are more than a convulsion, they can often (and usually) trigger a severe personality shake-up and sudden, out-of-character behaviour. Narration is also used effectively when she talks of the routine of medication, and what it does to her personality when she is forced to change medication. I got chills many times during this movie, it’s up there with Requiem for a Dream in how much it got to me in terms of its realism and the way it brought about a sense of familiarity of bad experiences and memories of my own. When she argues with doctors, I am hearing myself, I am hearing so many medications that I am on or have been on at some point in my life. I am hearing the same frustration in her voice. It is realistic and gritty, making for an intense watch for me, and looking from the outside, I imagine this very effectively puts the viewer in that position of what it feels like to live under that constant dread and fear of seizures.

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This is the scene where the movie begins, and the expression on her face, plus the reflections of bright lights, is a very apt visual metaphor for what living with TLE is like.. lost in thought, lights and colours intensified

Another part of epilepsy that the film portrays, perhaps too bluntly, but unfortunately again realistic, are the reactions of many when they see a person have a seizure. Lily herself uses words like ‘spaz’ more than once to describe herself – she is used to it. When a person is nice to her, and doesn’t mind about the seizures, it moves Lily so much that she is almost speechless. I have lost count of the amount of people who just couldn’t put up with my bullshit anymore, so I could again certainly relate to this scene and felt what Lily felt, the amazing sense of gratitude simply because someone is nice, and more importantly doesn’t care about the epilepsy. Again shown in the film, epilepsy is always something that I try to hide when meeting new people, but it never seems to let any relationship work. Hence the overwhelming sense of gratitude, just for a friendship.

The FX department may have gone a little overboard with the hallucinations, but, when they warp the vision and distort the visuals and audio in strange ways it is extremely effective, again very real, and for me, quite chilling. I was stunned at the accuracy up to a point. They just took it a little far, but this doesn’t really affect the movie negatively too much.

ELECTRICITY_still_2-620x348

At its core this is a movie about epilepsy, of course, but the narrative of a sister trying to find a lost brother is touching. The way this story pans out though can be hard to stomach, it isn’t an easy journey for Lily as this journey of course has the constant threat of a seizure. This again reminds me of Trainspotting in is raw depiction of fractured people, for whom every day is a mental struggle. Some relief from the depression comes in the form of Lily’s brother, a charismatic card player of some kind, a man who has dollar signs for eyeballs. His character arc, as well as Lily’s, is interesting and very well written.

electricity-003

Apparently the lead actress,  (above) is a model-turned-actor, Agyness Deyn. Could have fooled me! I had never heard of her but was thoroughly convinced by her depiction of a type of epilepsy that I deal with every day. The narration, the way she is too trusting, the fact that she can’t believe that someone will put up with it all… These aspects couldn’t have been more accurate. The frustration in her voice and narration…. I could go on, but for a performance from a model-turned-actor, in an emotionally heavy drama… she was almost flawless. She had a great cast and an extremely well-written script to work with, and she took full advantage of this and nailed it. The supporting actors playing her brothers (Christian Cooke, Paul Anderson) and a friend she meets on her journey to find her brother (Lenora Crichlow) are also great. But Deyn is in almost every scene here and does a fantastic job. The story is moving, as is her performance.

4/5 – This is emotional drama done right, the story becoming more interesting as we find out more about the lost brother Lily is trying to find. This simple but effective story, combined with the realistic depiction of epilepsy and the avalanche of symptoms and barriers than come along with the ride, make for a heavy and tense emotional drama, perhaps a notch down from movies like Trainspotting and Requiem For A Dream in terms of that gritty realism. Regardless of the epilepsy involved, this is my sort of film – heavy, well-written emotional drama. It seems rare these days. If I could point out a flaw is the FX department taking it a tad to far, that and a seemingly absent score. But neither affect the film in a significant way. A terrific film, highly recommended.

49 Comments on “ELECTRICITY [2014]

  1. I saw this pop up on Blinkbox and thought it sounded interesting. Sounds like I should definitely give it a go! I’ve been away from the blog for a week and it seems I have a lot to catch up on 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a UK film I read about in Sight and Sound, it should be screening around your parts if it isn’t already. If you like heavy dramas get your mits on this!!

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      • It hasn’t popped up at any cinemas near me yet, but it’s available to rent on Blinkbox already so I’ll try and give it a watch this weekend.

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      • Yeah I had to ‘rent’ it online, it’ll never be released down here. Its a great movie, gritty but not as depressing as requiem or trainspotting

        Like

  2. Another great passionate review Jordan – didn’t know this had made it to Australia yet, is it online? – HUGE CALL re Requiem comparison!!

    We have a sister site in the UK and we occasionally swap movies, they take our Aussie movie reviews and we take their UK (or Europe) ones – I really wanted to see this after our sister site reviewed it. And now I shall shamelessly plug our review 🙂 http://saltypopcorn.com.au/electricity/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah the requiem comparison is a huge call, this is slightly less dark and gritty, but none-the-less emotionally heavy and just generally not a very happy story. Requiem tho reigns supreme in movies that can unsettle me though. So many bad memories right there on the screen in front of me.

      I actually came across that review when googling about the movie. I was happy to see a 4/5 rating, that seems about right. It was interesting to read an article by someone looking in, as obviously for me this movie is totally different experience.

      I watched this online via streaming. My computer isn’t filled with viruses so I’m assuming it was legit? I don’t know, I just do know that this aint gonna get released in Aus so I don’t really have another way of watching it until the DVD comes out, which I’ll be buying fo’ SHO! Perhaps one day my parents might watch it, though I suspect it might be a bit too much for them.

      Have you guys reviewed The Dark Horse? NZ film about a dude with bi-polar who helps NZ youth to learn chess. That is what I have lined up next, followed by Mommy, another personal movie for me. And hell there is X+Y to go see as well – apparently autism is very similar to the type of epilepsy I have

      Stay tuned if you enjoyed my last two reviews, as the next two will be equally personal to me 🙂

      Like

    • Thanks for reading mate :0 Its crazy, I have watched four movies in a row now that are crazy personal for me. The next two reviews will also be movies that I have a connection to of some sort, one a true story, the other being ‘Mommy’.

      Stay tuned!

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  3. Where have I saw the name Agyness Deyn? Wasn’t she a model before? In any case, this sounds intriguing, that’s good that they portrayed epilepsy realistically, I appreciate when filmmakers do their research, y’know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, the accuracy of this film is stunning. Yeah apparenty Deyn is a model-turned-actress. Could have fooled me, she depicts a type of epilepsy I have almost perfectly. I didn’t know they name but certainly couldn’t see any massive holes in her acting. And this is a heavy drama we are talking about too, not some light romcom.

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    • It rocked me. It rocked me like Requeim For A Dream rocks me, so realistic in their depictions of fractured and desperate personalities. Thanks for reading 🙂

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      • One of my faves too, has been for a long time. Didn’t know it was based on a book! I’ll have to check out that author!! Thanks for the info 🙂

        Like

      • Oh yes, do. You have a treat in store. Very intense. Last Exit to Brooklyn is his most well known one. I couldn’t read The Room, page after page of what someone in a jail cell was thinking of doing to the police who arrested him. Shudder! I liked The Willow Tree as well. I read a lot. I used to buy and sell second hand books.

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      • Yeah I don’t read as much as I should. Favourites have been Hunter S Thompson, Orwell and Easton Ellis. Those books sound awesome, I’ll have to find one.

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      • I loved Fear and Loathing but not the others. Easton Ellis gives me the creeps. Hubert Selby Jnr’s stuff is intense and his subject matter is quite dark but underlying it all is a sense of compassion, like in the film version of Requiem.

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      • Hehe thats why I like Easton Ellis. The more effed up the better when it comes to stories I like 😀

        Re- Hunter, have you read Fear and Loathing on the campaign trail ’72. His best book IMO, better than Las Vegas for sure. Pure gonzo journalism 😀

        Like

      • I haven’t read Psycho, seen the movie too many times!! It is somewhat stylised, and the satire is great. I feel if I read it I’d just be seeing the movie in my head. I always try to read the book first

        Like

      • Hey, it’s good talking with you. And it’s kind of a novelty to be in approximately the same time zone as another blogger.
        Are you touch typing?

        Like

      • Close to. I can write without looking down for the most part, but have to every now and then. I never learnt it though, I know my mother did, 90 words a minute or something mental like that. The one thing she did for me was teach me how to write, so I gotta recognise that. She taught me all the rules and grammar and all that stuff. Then when I didn’t get an A at school she’d go mental at me, presumably cos she had gone out of her way to help me write and I wasn’t acheiving what she expected. That and my sister didn’t do well at school so all the pressure was put on my shoulders.

        But I still talk to my mother. We get along really well now, but before….. she was a single mum, I can’t hold any grudges, ya know?

        Sorry that was a widly random post haha

        Like

      • Hehe, I almost always find that people I meet with bipolar or epilepsy feel like long lost twins. its so cool to meet people who I know are on my wavelength. As I say in this review, my best mate has Aspergers, half the time we can read each others minds 😛

        And yeah, its great how Mum and I get along now. Like I wrote in my Polar Bear review, I saw one that at the cinemas with Mum on Easter Sunday. Its really cool how we can get along now. We weren’t talking at all for a long time.

        Like

      • Hahaha, you know it is odd, I’m fairly certain I am not adopted haha but its very weird…. where did the epilepsy come from? The bipolar? Neither side of my family has any history of either, which kinda doesn’t make sense…

        Like

      • Definetely got to get a Selby book now. Even if I have to download it until it arrives in the post, I want one now. You have me convinced. I want to read his stuff.

        Cormac McCarthy is someone I also like too. The Road, both the book and the film…. Wow.

        Like

      • Ahhh its so cool to chat to someone I can relate to. And is Australian 😛

        The Road broke my heart, one of the most moving books I have ever read. The movie is one of the best adaptations I have seen. Plus, Viggo 😀 I can watch him in anything

        Like

      • Ooooo yes I love that film. I love almost everything Cronie has done. Viggo and Vincent Cassel (the Kiril character) are both brilliant in that one.

        Like

      • Hehehe yeah he is a great actor, a new movie starring him is coming to Oz soon, its called Partisan. Check out the trailer, its ambigious but dayum it makes me wanna see the movie!!! The trailer to that film actually gives me chills.

        Like

      • I’d love to hear what you think of it. I love it, so ambigious, I have no idea what the story is at all but I know I want to see it. It makes a damned strong impression in only 55 odd seconds

        Like

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