Palm Trees and Power Lines (2023)

Palm Trees and Power Lines (2023)

R

A challenging, all-too-real portrait of a predatory relationship, led by a great young actress

7.0

Movie

United States of America
English
Drama
2023
FEMALE DIRECTOR, JAMIE DACK
Armani Jackson, Auden Thornton, Gretchen Mol
110 min

TLDR

An infuriating addition to Men Don't Deserve Rights cinema.

What it's about

Feeling isolated and unfulfilled in her suburban neighborhood, 17-year-old Lea begins a relationship with a charming but mysterious older man.

The take

Where Palm Trees and Power Lines may stumble in its depiction of lower-middle class ennui among American teenagers (who are all made to seem not just bored, but boring), it more than makes up for in its delicate handling of power dynamics in its central relationship. To an outsider, Lea's decisions to let a stranger get so close to her are maddening, but co-writer and director Jamie Dack is careful to emphasize that the teenager ultimately isn't to blame. And Lily McInerny's entirely naturalistic performance communicates a fear of both missing out on life experiences and of being totally out of her depth.

What stands out

It's hard to talk about without spoiling it, but the last 40 minutes of Palm Trees and Power Lines are absolutely harrowing. It's an inevitable climax given all the signs that come before it, which doesn't make it any easier to stomach. But it's important to note that Dack doesn't just show us these horrible things happening for the shock value; it's valuable to recognize how incidents such as this don't always happen loudly or violently. Lea doesn't actually know she's in trouble until she's neck-deep into it, and it's up to us as communities to make sure that no vulnerable children get tricked into wading that far in.

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