Fir­ing on all synapses

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

ELEC­TRIC­ITY Di­rected by Bryn Hig­gins. Star­ring Ag­y­ness Deyn, Lenora Crichlow, Christian Cooke, Paul An­der­son, Alice Lowe, Ben Batt. Club, IFI Dublin, 96 min Lily O’Con­nor (Ag­y­ness Deyn) is a pretty girl work­ing in a change kiosk at a sea­side amuse­ments. She suf­fers from epilepsy: and we do mean “suf­fers”. Her con­di­tion was caused by an abu­sive mother who threw her down the stairs when she was just two. Lily’s seizures are se­vere. There are trippy hal­lu­ci­na­tions and some­thing like in­ter­nal light­ning storms, ef­fects that are haunt­ingly ap­prox­i­mated in Bryn Hig­gins’s the­atri­cal de­but, with splen­did work from cin­e­matog­ra­pher Si Bell and the ef­fects de­part­ments.

Lily car­ries on re­gard­less: “Thrash, get up, get on with it” is her mantra.

When she learns that her es­tranged mother has died, Lily is re­united with her ne’er-do-well, poker -play­ing brother Barry (’ 71’ s Paul An­der­son), who wants to split the pro­ceeds from the sale of the fam­ily home. She ac­cepts, but only if the sib­lings cut it three ways by in­clud­ing their long-miss­ing brother, Mikey (Christian Cooke). Barry sug­gests that Mikey is likely to be dead; oth­ers say he may have dis­ap­peared into the cap­i­tal’s home­less pop­u­la­tion. But that doesn’t de­ter Lily from trav­el­ling to London to play gumshoe. She soon en­coun­ters a kindly, mid­dle-class les­bian (Lenora Crichlow), a mean-spir­ited for­mer sis­terin-law (Alice Lowe), and a cock­sure charmer (Ben Batt). Some of th­ese peo­ple are not what they seem; oth­ers are pre­cisely as they ap­pear.

Hig­gins’s adap­ta­tion of Ray Robin­son’s much-ad­mired novel es­tab­lishes a hyp­notic rhythm be­fore deftly shift­ing to­wards pow­er­ful drama. A sen­so­rial, yet sneak­ily im­pact- ful ex­pe­ri­ence that might sit com­fort­ably be­tween Carine Adler’s Un­der the Skin and Lynne Ram­say’s Morvern Cal­lar, Elec­tric­ity cun­ningly mir­rors its hero­ine’s con­scious­ness by lulling view­ers into a muf­fled space be­fore hurtling them to the ground.

Deyn, once best known as the for­mer Man­cu­nian model who mar­ried Gio­vanni Ribisi, proves her worth as an ac­tor with a mes­meris­ing cen­tral turn. The sup­port­ing cast is top-notch.

Christ­mas coun­ter­pro­gram­ming at its finest.

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