More from Nathaniel at the Tribeca Film Festival
There's something about the Killer Films logo, that has me rooting for the film that follows every time. Christine Vachon's company has shepherded so many confrontational and interesting indie films and voices into the arthouse over the years that it has both a nostalgic pull AND an edge, and those things rarely come conjoined.
Electric Slide, about a bank robbing loser in 80s Los Angeles, definitely has the confrontational edge part though it's not what you might call "interesting". The only likeable characters are way on the periphery (Vinessa Shaw is engaging despite very little to do as a furniture store employee) like the pretty bank tellers who really sell their brief moments of victimization and carnal attraction to Eddie. But as a film it's intensely narcissistic, less concerned with what you think of it, than what pose it's striking and whether you'd hate-fuck it. Eddie, the protagonist, is a slurry-voiced fey womanizer (Jim Sturgess, A-C-T-I-N-G, for better and mostly worse) who is a perpetual delusional fuck-up. Early in the film he speaks of Los Angeles as suffering from "Success Exhaustion" but he doesn't have that problem. He owes everyone money including a violent French gangster (Christopher Lambert in Eurotrash mode). He steals from wives he's sleeping with (Chloë Sevigny, owning her awesome wardrobe and Patricia Arquette, just owning). He takes up with a young beauty (Isabel Lucas) who is his only rival for empty vacant posturing, they're aspirational fashion models in place of characters. Or maybe that is their character in a soulless Bling Ring kind of way? Instead of repaying his debts withs his loot he keeps spending it.
Electric Slide employs a countdown format with 10 'chapters' and though the film does become slightly more tense as it progresses what's actually happening in the scenes is so similar that the countdown is reduced to affectation rather than a storytelling technique. And much of the film feels arbitrary - you could remove any of its subplots or any single scene and it'd be the same film. Still, and all, the film is pretty to look at with enticing cinematography and interesting frame composition from debut director Tristan Patterson and his DP Darran Tiernan so I'd love to see another film from the pair. The production design (Michael Grasley, from Sympathy for Delicious) and costuming (Jennifer Johnson whose biggest gig in the past was Beginners) fetishize the 80s well, too. If it adds up to nothing more than a gorgeous hipster fashion editorial, so what? With so many indies so indifferently shot from either budget constraints or the lack of an eye for visual storytelling, sometimes surface beauty is its own reward.
Visuals: A-; The Rest of It: C-