In Electricty, we meet Lily (Agnyess Deyn), a twenty-something woman who’s just lost her estranged mother. When Lily travels back to the home she grew up in, not only does she find her brother Barry (Paul Anderson), she has flashbacks to all the awful occurrences that happened in the home. Lily has epilepsy, an incurable condition that affects the brain and causes potentially life threatening seizures.
Growing up, no one empathised with Lily’s condition, her mother was abusive and Barry was too concerned with being part of the cool crowd and living a teenage life to tend to his bizarre sister. The only person who looked out for Lily was her brother Mikey (Christian Cooke). Thanks to Mikey’s hot-headed nature, he was constantly fighting (often defending Lily against bullies), making it easy for his mother to have him taken away by Child Protective Services due to his behaviour. Now that Lily’s mother has passed, Barry wants to sell the house and split the profit. He talks about putting the past in the past and being a family. Lily insists upon finding their long lost brother Mikey before doing anything with their inheritance from selling the house (which comes out to a cool $20,000 each).
As Lily embarks on this journey to discover what happened to her brother, she is tormented by her condition. Lily lives alone and has few people to rely on. She has seizures often and finds that she blacks out for much of the experience, leaving her vulnerable and in danger of dying. The film helps capture Lily’s experience by distorting images and sounds to mimic that of an oncoming (and current) seizure. Lights blossom, noises are distorted and everything sort of melts together before it’s lights out. Time blinks in and out as Lily stumbles along, often with no one to help her. The terrifying reality of both Lily’s condition and her lack of companionship is heartbreaking.
Thanks to her desperation to find Mikey, she becomes too trustworthy with a panhandling woman named Rachel (who is far too clean and well kept for someone who’s supposedly living on the street). When Rachel robs Lily, she is angry about the loss of her valuables, but it’s her medication she’s most concerned with. Through this it is clear that Lily is very untrusting of doctors and doesn’t properly care for herself or her condition, though she feels as though she is doing the right thing by staying on a medication that clearly isn’t working well enough to control her seizures.
Through her seizures, Lily finds an unexpected friendship in Mel (Lenora Crichlow). Mel is more then generous to Lily and helps her weave her way through the mess of trying to find Mikey and live with her epilepsy. Mel is willing to take on the burden that an epileptic seizure brings, though her fear is evident when Lily has an episode and Mel can only scream for help or call an ambulance.
Electricity shows us that while epilepsy may not be an entirely invisible illness, it can be a lonely, haunting experience. Few people are willing to get close to someone who has such a debilitating and frightening condition. As Lily’s search for Mikey goes on, she learns things about her brothers that make her feel unsure of herself and her trust in them. Thanks to Mel and her boss Al, Lily is able to navigate her way through the mess of her family life while finally coming to terms with her condition and learning ways to cope properly.
While the visual effects used to emulate both Lily’s feelings and experiences are wonderful and artistically rendered, the score of the film can be distracting at times. While some of the music helps lend to the the anxious nature of a scene, it can be distracting at times as well. Deyn’s performance is heartbreaking yet realistic. Cook and Anderson are equally terrifying yet relatable in their roles.
Overall, Electricity is an raw yet captivating look at how challenging life can be for someone with a chronic condition. Lily shows how challenging it is to trust modern medicine when there seems to be more consequences than benefits to doing so. Lily’s experience reinforces the notion that family and friendship have many faces.
Electricity was released on December 12, 2014.