Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Epilepsy is not a subject you will find tackled in many feature films, the only one that come’s to mine (although I suspect there are more) was Anton Corbijn’s Control (2007) which was the biopic about the life, and subsequent death, of Joy Divisions lead singer Ian Curtis who suffered from depression as well as epilepsy. Curtis hung himself at the age of 23 from a clothesline in his own kitchen!

The word Epilepsy, I’m reliable informed by the Internet, comes from an ancient Greek verb meaning ‘to seize, possess, or afflict’.  It’s a neurological disorder that manifests itself  by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain”.

Co-indecently Electricity (2014), a British independent movie. is the name of this weeks Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club screening. Directing and producing his debut feature film is Bryn Higgins, a man who can normally be found working on television drama series.[1]  The film is based on Ray Robinson[2] superb novel that is being re-issued to coincide with film's release. It has been adapted for the big screen by Joe Fisher.
Lily O'Connor.
The story is seen through the eyes of a vulnerable young woman, Lily O’Connor who has suffered, despite heavy medication, from an epileptic condition since she was six years old when her alcoholic mother threw her down the stairs but she refuses to be defined by her illness. It’s when her mother dies and she comes into an inheritance that the story really takes shape. Her older brother Barry, although not happy, agrees that there younger brother Mickey should get a share. The problem is that the wayward Mickey lives down south in London[3] and Lily does not have his address. But even so she leaves the familiarity and security of her North-east England seaside town[4] and sets out to find her younger brother.

We have a stunning central performance from Agyness Deyn who stars in her first leading role as Lily O’Connor, successfully infusing the character with equal amounts of attitude, charisma and vulnerability, and a character with which the audience can easily identify. The 31-year-old Manchester born Deyn is best known as a fashion model and has appeared on the cover of the Vogue magazine. She has also appeared in Clash of the Titans in 2010 and in 2012 appeared opposite Richard Cole in the English language remake of Pusher.[5] She is also appearing in Terence Davies next movie Sunset Song along side Film Club favourite Peter Mullan. Lily’s brother Barry is played by Paul Anderson, who you will no doubt recognise from his role as the psychopathic Arthur Shelby in TV’s Peaky Blinders.  Lenora Crichlow, who stars in the BBC series Being Human, plays Lily’s friend Mel and I’m sure you will also recognise Alice Lowe from Ben Wheatley’s black comedy Sightseers (2012).[6]
Lily with brother Barry.
In a seven-week shoot the director set out to produce a powerful two-fold story, one of which is too enter the headspace of a young epileptic woman and the second is how she sets out in a search of her errant brother. This visual drama succeeds in in both cases. This meaningful and touching film combines strong, witty human drama with remarkable visual effects to create an immersive and compelling cinematic experience. Shot beautifully by Si Bell the colours, shots, framing and style of the photography is breath taking. The editing, special effects, supporting cast, locations, wardrobe, make up, production design, even the title credits are all stunningly crafted.

A significant amount of the funding for the film came from the Wellcome Trust, the medical charity. Also input was provided from the Epilepsy Society throughout the whole process of scripting shooting and editing. They also had a medical advisor on set.
Off kilter Alice in Wonderland.
Described an off kilter Alice In Wonderland for the modern day, it’s socially real, gritty, thought provoking and interesting naturalistic drama, which at times trips into the avant-garde, apparently influenced by the work of Stan Brakhage[7]. Glasgow born John Lunn who has won awards for his musical work on Downton Abbey composed the original soundtrack.

[1] Including Casualty 1909, Casualty 1907 and Silent Witness.
[2] Who did have an input into the adaptation.
[3] Lily’s trip to London is reflecting the Alice going down the rabbit hole and her journey through wonderland.
[4] Shot on location in Saltburn on Sea, Cleveland, Newcastle upon Tyne, Co Durham Hospital and London. 
[5] The Danish original was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and released in 1996. 
[6] Which she also co-wrote along side Steve Oram.
[7] An American non-narrative filmmaker who is considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th-century experimental film.

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