Palm Trees and Power Lines
In this powerfully unsettling examination of consent and predation, which won Sundance’s US Dramatic Directing Award, a teenage girl falls for a man twice her age.
Seventeen-year-old Lea is mind-numbingly bored by her small-town Californian summer of sunbathing, long walks, YouTube make-up tutorials, mall visits with her best friend and the mundane company of local boys. So when she meets 34-year-old Tom at a diner, their flirtation opens up a new, more thrilling world. He tells her, “You’re not like any girl I know,” and she blossoms under his attention. Soon, she’s avoiding her friends and lying to her mother about her activities. But unlike Lea, we know all too well where Tom’s true, predatory intentions lie.
Jamie Dack’s feature debut powerfully inhabits Lea’s perspective while never averting its focus from the unconscionable basis for Tom’s interest in her; cinematographer Chananun Chotrungroj ensures that we witness this dynamic in sticky glances, shifting stances or a slyly controlling tone. As seen through the eyes of Lea, played with strong-willed fragility by newcomer Lily McInerny, a wholly rendered world of teenage restlessness and fixations gives way to something darker and more dangerous. Discomforting and unforgettable, this cautionary tale – brought to the screen by an all-female creative team – not only tackles a fraught topic head-on, but renders it with extraordinary forthrightness and sensitivity.
“Remarkably sharp-eyed and bruising … [An] unnerving, meticulous debut.” – The Guardian