The Movie Waffler First look Review - <i>Electric Slide</i> | The Movie Waffler

First look Review - Electric Slide

The true story of flamboyant bank robber Eddie Dodson.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Tristan Patterson

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Isabel Lucas, Chloe Sevigny, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Lambert

Eddie Dodson (Jim Sturgess), Electric Slide’s lead character, is a real hep-cat. Resplendent in his designer shades, sharp threads, and red carnation, Eddie is one cool customer. The women of Electric Slide’s mid-eighties set L.A. want him, and the men, well, the men are after him too; mainly because he owes them thousands of dollars. Those powder blue suits and thick framed sunnies don’t come for free, it seems, and Eddie has run up substantial debts all over the noir-ish streets of La La Land. Eddie’s cool is unfazed, though. He’s met dreamy ingénue Pauline (Isabel Lucas), and together they hatch a plan to rob the banks of Los Angeles, relying on little more than a starter pistol, Pauline’s questionable getaway driving and Eddie’s fathomless charm. And so the two laconically drift through the glittering sunshine, the neon lights, smoking and listening to period rock, turning over banks, arguing, making up, and living a peculiarly empty LA dream: an electric slide into ennui.
If Electric Slide wasn’t based on supposed true events of the real life Eddie Dodson’s existence, you wouldn’t credit his bank robbing technique, or the plot at large, for one hot minute. A typical heist involves the unimposing Eddie (who looks for all the world like a mid-Beatles Paul McCartney) drawling to a (cute, young, female) teller to give him the money, while he shakes about his silly little gun and tells her how attractive she is. Without fail, they all comply. In fact, the daft girls seem to actually enjoy being robbed by dashing Dodson, although the pretty but slight Sturgess’s performance doesn’t seem to suggest any convincing reason for their infatuation. As if to persuade us, the film repeatedly tells us how charming he is, how handsome, as if these aspects of his person transcend the need to have any other functioning or interesting characteristics. We don’t really see much of Eddie’s inner personality, or get close to understanding his relationship with Pauline (who is simply a cypher; the portrayal of women in this film is especially shallow), we’re simply meant to be impressed by his clothes and hegemonic looks. It is in keeping that Eddie is all front, all aloof cool and careful style over any identifiable personality, as his scant characterisation is typical of what constitutes this film. Throughout its (long) 95 mins running time Electric Slide looks gorgeous. The period detail is sumptuous, the set design and costumes as strikingly cinematic as anything this year. Ultimately, however, there is precious little beneath these shimmering surfaces.
The overall effect of Electric Slide is akin to flicking through a style magazine; a continuous sequence of fashionable cool, a mere distraction, which ends up getting tiresome very quickly. The plot is nascent, and the execution loose; the characters played by Chloe Sevigny (whose glassy eyed radiance typifies the film’s glamour) and Patricia Arquette merely float in and out of the film with no real rhyme or reason. There never seems to be any tangible cause to root for Eddie, and if even there was, the film never seems to present him in any real danger. There are a couple of witty visual jokes (a police line up involves half a dozen men improbably all dressed in the same slick suit and carnation as Eddie), but these are hard won, buried beneath endless shots of Pauline smoking in slow motion, or Eddie staring off into a middle distance; an Athena poster aesthetic.

Early on in the film, Eddie and Pauline take to a cinema and watch Breathless, itself a remake of A Bout de Souffle, and another stylish tale of a pretty young criminal couple on the lam. Pauline takes to quoting dialogue from this screening throughout Electric Slide, and therein lies the film’s true vocation; a facsimile, an exercise in empty chic, and a superfluous re-tread of previous glories. A film so in love with itself that it spends over 90 minutes practising its moves in front of the bedroom mirror. Let this electricity bill slide.