by Veronica Stone
Rebecca Thomas is ready to take Hollywood by storm. The 31-year old director is attached to the live adaptation of The Little Mermaid, proving that young (female!!!) directors are finally making a substantial break in Hollywood. Thomas isn’t a newbie. Her first feature, Electrick Children, made its rounds in 2012 at the Berlin International Film Festival followed by South by Southwest and the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, generating positive reviews at each.
Electrick Children stars Billy Zane, Rory Culkin and Julia Garner, and follows the story of 15-year old Rachel, a member of a fundamentalist Mormon community in Utah, who listens to a music cassette in secret (the Nerve’s catchy tune Hanging on the Telephone) and finds herself pregnant. Convinced it’s an immaculate conception, Rachel flees her community with her brother, Mr. Will, after her father tries to force her into a shotgun marriage. Eventually, the two find themselves in Las Vegas. Here, they befriend a group of stoner skater boys who avoid their families and roam free. Clyde, a member of the group, instantly falls in love with Rachel and wants to help her find the father of her child, whom she believes is the singer on the cassette. What follows is a beautiful and delicate coming of age story that truly captures the essence of youthful innocence in a way that only a handful of filmmakers know how. Thomas wrote and directed Electrick Children and it’s a special first feature, as she herself, was raised as a mainstream Mormon in Las Vegas. With such a background, she was able to create a movie filled with magical realism and revelatory performances by both, Julia Garner and Rory Culkin.
Looking forward, Thomas’s future in the film industry looks promising. She recently replaced Sofia Coppola as the director of the live-action film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, with Chloe Grace Moretz attached to star. Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually) is on board to pen the script. Yet, it’s still unclear how closely the latest adaptation will follow the original story about a young mermaid who wishes to become human, after falling in love with a man that she saved from drowning.
If Electrick Children proves that despite (and maybe thanks to) her young age, Rebecca Thomas is able to successfully make a deep, substantial and intimate film with great storytelling and a knack for magical realism, then there’s no doubt that a big studio film like The Little Mermaid is in the right, and possibly best hands in the biz.