I Have Electric Dreams (2022)

A livewire film depicting a tumultuous relationship between an artistic but temperamental father and his loving daughter, who is at the threshold of adulthood, struggling to understand her physical and emotional needs and desires.

8/25/20233 min read

Daniela Marin Navarro and Reinaldo Amien Gutierrez in 'I Have Electric Dreams'
Daniela Marin Navarro and Reinaldo Amien Gutierrez in 'I Have Electric Dreams'

Spanish, 103 minutes, 2022

Director: Valentina Maurel

Cast: Daniela Marin Navarro, Reinaldo Amien Gutierrez, Vivian Rodriguez

Awards: Winners, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress with Nomination for Best Film (Golden Leaopard) at Locarno Film Festival, 2022; Best Film (Golden Peacock) and Best Actress, India International Film Festival, Goa, 2022; Winner, Grand Prix, Luxembourg City Film Festival, 2023; Winner, Horizons Award, San Sebastian International Film Festival, 2022

True to its name, the electricity runs through the film. Even though it is a drama, you feel the undercurrent of tension and violence runs through it as if it were a thriller. The movie revolves entirely around Eva (Daniela Marin Navarro), a sixteen year old girl whose parents are divorced. Though she, and her younger sister, Sol, is currently staying with her mother, Anca (Vivian Rodriguez) she wants to stay with her father, Martin (Reinaldo Amien Gutierrez). Problem is, he doesn’t have a home. So Eva helps him search for a home. Eva is fond of her pet, a black cat that she has named Kwesi, after Linton Kwesi Johnson, a Jamaican poet.

Right in the opening sequence we see the family of four driving in a car. After they reach the house, father can’t open the garage and he is shown abnormally angry. He hits around and bangs his head against the garage door which leads to bleeding. This introduction of aggressive Martin stays with the viewer whenever he is on screen. For this, one must give due credit to director Valentina and the actor Reinaldo. Martin is shown as an artist who is a sculptor and writes poems too. He is currently staying at his childhood friend, Jose Paolo’s place, who is nicknamed ‘Dove’.

Once when Eva is visiting Martin, people gather for a poetry workshop organized by Dove at his place. They are all budding poets reading their poems. Eva gets friendly to Dove who is considerate and warm towards her. She smokes Dove’s cigarette, kept in bathroom, which is drugged and feels sleepy. After she wakes up, her father is nowhere to be found, everybody is gone and Dove is cleaning the house. After the clean-up Dove is in his room sitting alone when Eva goes to sit with him. The intimacy grows and Eva and Dove end up having sex. Eva returns home in the night.

After few days Eva, Sol and Martin go out for a day to enjoy. They visit Martin’s friend’s house where his father reads an unfinished poem which actually is kind of feeling he seems to have for the married lady friend. The girls return quite late into the night as Sol is asleep. One day, Eva and Martin are hunting for house and they visit an apartment which Martin thinks is expensive and small but Eva likes it because it has view and has two bedrooms. In the lift, he remarks about the girl who was showing property as attractive. Eva counters him saying that does he think the girl would like him. Martin takes offense and hits her on back. Though he says sorry, Eva is hurt and angry. She messes up with switches and a lift technician is called. He senses the atmosphere and sternly asks is everything alright? Father says yes and they leave. On returning to Martin’s home, Martin goes out to get cat food and Eva remains there with Dove. They start getting physical but Dove stops mid-way saying he doesn’t feel it is right. Eva is in love but Dove says it is not that simple. Eva is crying when Martin enters home. On seeing Eva, he senses what could have happened and out of frustration cuts his hand while opening cat food packet. They visit doctor who stitches it up.

The end is a touching climax which I would not like to reveal here. The film is Valentina’s debut feature film but is an accomplished work of art. Daniela Marin Navarro, as young Eva and Reinaldo Amien Gutierrez as her father Martin dazzle the screen. No wonder both have won numerous accolades at various film festivals across the world. Eva’s character is handled delicately and sensitively from the perspective of her reaching adulthood. Her desires, her physical and emotional needs are woven beautifully in a tight and engrossing screenplay, also written by Valentina.

About the director, Valentina Maurel

Born and raised in Costa Rica, Valentina studied filmmaking at INSAS in Brussels, Belgium. Her passing out film 'Paul is here’ won the first Cine'fondation Prize at Cannes in 2017. Her next short film, ‘Lucia en el Limbo’, made in 2019, was selected for Toronto International Film festival, ‘Critics Week’ section at Cannes Film festival and won the top prize at Guanajuato International Film Festival, Mexico.

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