AUSTIN, Texas - Following in the footsteps of “Sound of My Voice” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” the indie world’s fascination with cults – or cult-ish behavior – continues at the 2012 South by Southwest film fest with Rebecca Thomas’s “Electrick Children,” a quirky portrait of two Mormon teenagers searching for meaning in suburban Las Vegas.
Inspired by the filmmaker’s own experiences as a Mormon growing up outside Sin City, the film explores faith in delicate, sensitive ways, particularly in the face of secular temptation. But it eventually acquiesces to indie-film clichés instead of digging deeper into its intriguing philosophical quandaries, ultimately creating a portrait of divine providence that’s more promising than profound.
Julia Garner (perhaps ironically, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”) plays Rachel, a devout teenager who gets introduced to the world beyond her insular Mormon community after her father Paul (Billy Zane) records her religious testimony on a tape recorder. Fascinated by the mysterious technology, she sneaks out to listen to it at night, and among the interview recordings she finds a cassette tape with music on it – the first rock & roll she’s ever heard.