The deeply disturbing and cautionary drama was shot by feature film American debutant Jamie Dack, who won an award at the Sundance festival for directing this shocking drama. He had “Palm Trees and Power Lines” and four nominations for the American independent film of the year (first screenplay, first picture, supporting actor and breakthrough actor of the year). The candidate for acting discovery of the year is Lily McInerny, an actress completely unknown to me until now who is great as the main protagonist of this drama, 17-year-old Leah who will enter into a relationship with a man twice her age, 34-year-old Tom (Jonathan Tucker).
The very idea of making a movie about a teenage girl’s relationship with a much older guy is quite problematic and it could very easily have slipped into complete distaste and exploitation. All the more because Tom is anything but a Woody Allen guy who chases 17-year-old girls in “Manhattan”, but from the first moment we see him, it’s obvious that something is wrong with this guy. The very idea that a 34-year-old guy would get into a relationship with a girl who could be his daughter seems sleazy, and Tom himself seems that way to everyone. Everyone except Leah, a girl who seems to feel more mature than her peer group and seems to have outgrown them, as if they are boring to her. When a much older guy shows interest in her, it will impress her quite a bit, and very soon this girl will allow Tom to completely manipulate her and the outcome of the whole story is quite shocking.
She made Dack a bold film from start to finish in classic American realistic indie style. There is no sugarcoating or sugarcoating of reality, because again we have a rather hopeless environment of the passive end of America, an uninterested single mother (Gretchen Mol) who takes more time to meet her needs and a young person who thinks that no one understands her. If no one sees her and no one experiences her, even in such a fragile moment, someone will appear who not only shows interest, but seems to understand her completely. It is the film that presents a completely realistic and possible story in an incredibly convincing way, and this is exactly one of the strongest assets of “Palm Trees and Power Lines”.
Everything that we see and what will happen seems so real, realistic and possible, and something similar has probably happened more than once in reality, and that actually contributes the most to the feeling of that deep anxiety. A big plus is that it is finally an American film in which teenagers are played by young people who look like teenagers, and not men and women in their thirties. But the strongest asset of the film is precisely McInery, the young actress who embodied Leah, a girl who clearly makes one wrong decision after another and who sees in a guy with not very pure intentions, an opportunity to escape.
From the very beginning and their first meeting, alarm bells are ringing because not only is the guy a heavy slob and a passive-aggressive primitive, but it’s also completely unclear what he does and who lives in the motel. Perhaps the scariest aspect of the whole movie is that we watch this girl ignore all the signals, the alarms going off and the alarm bells ringing and allow Tom to manipulate her, do whatever he wants to her. It is a warning and shocking drama that proves that in the sea of American studio bofl goods, you can still find quality works in the independent production there, which may not be hyped, but they are certainly valuable and of high quality.