Dir: Bryn Higgins. UK. 2014. 96mins
Model-turned-actress Agyness Deyn proves to be the charismatic and tender heart of Bryn Higgins off-kilter spin on the classic Alice In Wonderland story, playing a fragile and fractured young woman suffering from epileptic fits who heads to frenetic old London town in search of a long lost brother.
Agyness Deyn is excellent as the determined but troubled Lily, her bright and garish wardrobe tallying with her bright and optimistic personality, and she invests a good deal of charm into a tough role that calls for her to be challenged both physically and emotionally.
To a certain extent Electricity, which had its world premiere at the London Film Festival is a familiar kind of low-budget British drama – family traumas, North-South divide, lost souls struggling to find redemption – but its odd magical realist moments give it an engagingly watchable edge, while Deyn’s garishly dressed Lily is an enjoyably off-beat character.
Based on Ray Robinson’s novel, the film follows Lily O’Connor (Deyn), a rather lost individual (she compares her seizures to Alice, saying: “here’s the breath, here’s the breeze, here’s the shiver – I’m Alice falling down the rabbit hole”) who decides to take a step into the unknown and head down to London to try and find her lost brother - who appears to gone way off the beaten track and changed his name – to give him a share of their mother’s inheritance.
But tracking down Mikey (Christian Cooke) proves to be rather hard, especially since he has gone off the grid and Lily’s epilepsy tends to get in the way of her investigations. She gets ripped off by a street kid despite trying to be helpful, but eventually finds kindly assistance from saintly Mel (Lenora Crichlow), who – in a rather unlikely but ultimately convincing gesture – invites Lily to come and stay with her while she looks for Mikey.
At the heart of the film is Lily’s carefully regimented system of pills and her eventual battle to try and regain a sense of control of her own life. Her regular fits see her battered and bruised (the film is blessed with plenty of opportunities for make-up artists to create new blemishes on Deyn’s otherwise flawless skin) and the scenes of the fits allows director Bryn Higgins to experiment with some nice visual flourishes to help reinforce the fact that Lily vanishes into another world for a short time when she has seizures.
Agyness Deyn is excellent as the determined but troubled Lily, her bright and garish wardrobe tallying with her bright and optimistic personality, and she invests a good deal of charm into a tough role that calls for her to be challenged both physically and emotionally. In the end perhaps the film offers little new in terms of dramatic arcs, but it is a well-sustained and impressively made journey all the same.
Production companies: Stone City Films, BFI, The Wellcome Trust
Sales contact: Stone City Films, www.stonecity.co.uk
Producers: Clare Duggan, Bryn Higgins
Executive producers: Chris Collins, Rachel Hilman, Alison Morgan
Screenplay: Joe Fisher, based on Ray Robinson’s novel
Cinematography: Si Bell
Editor: Ben Yeates
Production designer: Beck Rainford
Music: John Lunn
Main cast: Agyness Deyn, Lenora Crichlow, Christian Cooke, Paul Anderson, Tom Georgeson, Alice Lowe, Ben Batt, Saffron Coomber