Review: I Have Electric Dreams
- Valentina Maurel delivers a troubling adolescent chronicle, carried by a heroine who discovers, in spite of herself, that adulthood is not an end in itself
"I have electric dreams". Acclaimed for her short films Paul est là (awarded the Cinéfondation Prize in Cannes in 2017) and Lucia in Limbo (selected for Cannes’ Critics’ Week in 2019), Valentina Maurel has passed the milestone of her first feature film with panache, having presented I Have Electric Dreams [+see also:
interview: Valentina Maurel
film profile] in competition, today, at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival.
The film builds on the director’s cinematic history, once again exploring adolescence. Having previously probed a young woman’s sensual and sexual awakening with elegance and candour in Lucia in Limbo, Maurel now turns her gaze to the fragile relationship existing between a young woman and her father. Eva can’t bear the fact that her very recently divorced mother wants to renovate the family home. She dreams of one thing and one thing only: going to live with her father, for the latter to find himself an apartment, preferably with a bedroom for her, where she can safeguard her private world and her adolescence. She does everything she can to make this happen, going so far as to scour the classifieds for her father. But, unfortunately, the latter, who is thirsty for freedom, behaves with painful amateurishness when it comes to ensuring his child’s stability.
Palomo is a poet. Palomo is a free spirit. But Palomo is also a man characterised by an archaic tendency towards violence, which Eva doesn’t really know what to do with. How and why would she love a violent and dysfunctional father? Watching her father, his friends, but also her mother, Eva finds herself wondering what adulthood is all about. Is it really sensible to look forward to this age of reason? Ultimately, the men and women around her, who take refuge in their love of art and their thirst for freedom, seem just as lost as she is, if not even more so.
Eva finds herself facing a dead end. I Have Electric Dreams isn’t your usual coming-of-age tale where a young woman turns into a young woman over the course of a summer. Eva sees beyond that. She sees the distress, the incapacity and the violence which awaits her "on the other side", after adolescence.
What kind of demons plague Eva’s family? How and why has violence become a language within her family unit, a conversation between her father and herself, and sometimes even with her mother? What can be done about this legacy, this violence handed down between generations?
Daniela Marín Navarro lends her passion, her piercing gaze, and her naturalness to Eva, portraying a stubborn and disarming heroine. Reinaldo Amien Gutiérrez, meanwhile, conveys the ambiguity of Palomo to perfection, a father who’s as loving as he is violent, lost in his ideals and (sometimes) saved by his art. Valentina Maurel often depicts them in movement, in search of attachments, speeding across a version of San José which we don’t often see in film, a portrayal happily free from exoticism.
(Translated from French)
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