Reviews: Electric Slide

Electric Slide hits theaters and on demand services on April 3rd. Check out our early review.

"Just because you have an
awesome mustache doesn't mean
you can grab my arm like that."
As physical proof that style doesn’t necessitate substance, the colorful but ultimately hollow and at times, torpid feature film debut of writer-director Tristan Patterson comes across as another Refn-inspired wannabe throwback to the “retro-'80s” feel of films like Drive and The Guest.  Between the stellar ensemble cast combined with the right look, sound and feel, the true story of small time bank robber Eddie Dodson should provide all the ingredients for another hip and cool synthetic classic.  While those films had a keen balance between silence and noise with a sharp and clever attitude, Electric Slide feels like a perpetual mellow high that never fully awakens from lethargy. 

Eddie Dodson (played with stoned cool by Jim Sturgess) is a club owner who hides out under the guise of an antique store manager, borrowing and spending right and left until it catches up with him when a vicious loan shark (Christopher Lambert doing Mark Rydell from The Long Goodbye) demands his debts be repaid.  Along the way Dodson acquires a new nymph in the form of Pauline (Isabel Lucas), another equally drugged lifer wooed by Dodson’s charms.  For a majority of the film, these two will lay around with half-lit eyes and brains listening to Lou Reed and other '80s hits on either his turntable or audio cassette recorder, almost calling attention to the slick hipness of the retro equipment.  More than anything, the film seems less about telling an engaging story than falling in love with its own aesthetic.  Where some detractors quick to dismiss Drive as style over substance, they didn’t see Electric Slide yet.

It’s a shame the film looks and sounds so good and has such a strong cast including but not limited to Patricia Arquette, Chloe Sevigny and Vinessa Shaw.  The soundtrack no doubt is the kind you’ll want to pick up on vinyl whenever it comes out and many of the film’s images perfectly capture by design the iconography of Michael Mann and Nicolas Winding Refn.  Performances themselves are solid, but the problem is the actors don’t have a lot to do with their characters other than to make real people into flat archetypes.  The real star of the show is the cinematography, which is undeniably beautiful at times.  Watching Electric Slide, I couldn’t help but think of the time Stephen King denounced Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining as little more than a ‘big, beautiful car without an engine’.  Pity that the hollow paper box was covered in shiny wrapping paper.  

-Andrew Kotwicki