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Electric Slide ***

by Andrew Hudak

Stylish bank robber drama is available On Demand

Is it worth $10? Yes

“Electric Slide” is one of the most boldly creative-looking movies in recent memory. The setting is Los Angeles in 1983. A typical period piece will painstakingly try to recreate the era by building sets and buying/making props that constantly remind the audience of the period. What makes the look of “Electric Slide” so bold is that it dares to be so eclectic.

The opening scene of the movie takes place in a movie theatre. It’s at least 1983 because “Breathless,” a movie released that year starring Richard Gere, is playing. But look at the dresses and the hairstyles of Pauline (Isabel Lucas) and Charlotte (Chloë Sevigny). They could be molls or femme fatales out of a 1940s gangster movie. Also look at the suit and fedora worn by Eddie (Jim Sturgess). It wouldn’t have surprised me if right then and there he took out a tommy gun and shot it out with the coppers.

Eddie is many things. For one, he’s a player. In addition to Sevigny’s Charlotte, he also romances Tina, played by recently anointed Best Actress and wage gap myth propagator Patricia Arquette. He has a sly, easygoing charm that gives him a way with women—one that he uses to his advantage to borrow money. He’s deeply in debt to a bank and to a local gangster named Roy Fortune (Christopher Lambert). He needs all the financial assistance he can get.

Eddie is also a business owner. He has a furniture store that isn’t doing well. The bank is threatening to seize his assets. Roy Fortune is threatening him physically if he doesn’t get paid back. This leads to the final thing that Eddie is: A bank robber.

But first, back to the sets. The houses, apartments, hotel rooms, and banks are all colorfully decorated in an eclectic way. The furniture store, and the employees who work in it, are straight out of the 1960s. Everyone looks like they walked off the screen from a movie of a different era, and the mish mash of styles completely works. I was in awe of the look of “Electric Slide” from the first moment to the last. Since they typically don’t get their just dues in film reviews, I want to call out Production Designer Michael Grasley, Art Director Michael Hersey, Set Decorator Justin Lieb, and Costume Designer Jennifer Johnson. Of course, the look of the movie is also dependent on the camera work and lighting of Cinematographer Darran Tiernan. The collaboration of these remarkably talented individuals is an inspiration.

Now on with the story, which is basically about Eddie romancing Pauline and robbing banks to get money to pay back Roy. Sturgess channels Nicolas Cage with his intonations and cadences, and there were times when his gestures were very Cage-esque. Pauline is the get away driver. She naps in the car while Eddie, using nothing more than a starter pistol, a leather bag, some dapper duds, and a whole lot of charm, holds tellers at gunpoint and passes them a note that says “Give it to me.”

The bank robbery scenes are the highlight of “Electric Slide.” Each one is more dramatic and tense than the one that came before it. We can see Eddie’s charm and coolness melt away as he becomes sweaty and nervous while walking out of the bank. There is suspense in this movie that is worthy of Hitchcock.

If only the romance scenes were as good. I never felt the hot, passionate vibe between Pauline and Eddie that was supposed to be there. It’s easy to see how Pauline is in it for the excitement and thinks that Eddie is cool and daring, even fun, but the physical attraction that follows for her—and for him for that matter—just doesn’t resonate. In a lot of their scenes together, it looked like each of them had something better to do.

Christopher Lambert injects some much needed grit into “Electric Slide.”  Eddie is so charming and plays things so fast and loose, there isn’t much threat of a comeuppance for him, except from Roy Fortune. Lambert has a piercing glare when he looks at Roy and growls at him. It’s perfect—just when this cocksure hot shot thinks he’s got it all figured and starts feeling good, Roy reminds him why he shouldn’t feel that way—at all.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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