Visually stylish, yet the story yearns to be so much more…

by Randy Krinsky

Electric Slide is, first and foremost, a period film; attractive and full of 1980’s visual style; stunning and very true to the aesthetics of the decade.  Unfortunately, that’s where most of the allure ends.  Director Tristan Patterson brings us this crime film loosely-based on the true story of Eddie Dodson. Dodson was a Bohemian furniture store owner who aspired to be much more.  He hobnobbed with celebrities and the wealthy, yearning to live the glamorous lifestyle he couldn’t afford.  He borrowed money from the bank, and then wasted it; borrowed money from a loan shark to pay off the bank, yet blows the money again.  As his financial situation closes in all around him, Dodson turned to bank robbery as a way out.

In reality, Dodson amassed almost $300,000 by robbing well over sixty banks in less than a year; not a minor feat for your common stickup man, much more impressive when you’re well-known locally like Dodson.   The film is accentuated by an excellent soundtrack.  However, the film would have been well-served had the filmmakers replaced the generic 1980’s new wave with the more definitive tracks that defined the decade. The music, along with the costuming, does their job well enough, though, working to place the viewer embedded deep into the period.

Electric Slide
Directed by
Tristan Patterson
Jim Sturgess, Isabel Lucas, Patricia Arquette
Release Date
3 April 2015
Randy’s Grade: C

The film is divided into multiple sequences, denoted by countdown intertitles, working their way down to 1, connecting the sequences and building the intensity to Dodson’s eventual downfall. The talented cast includes Jim Sturgess as Eddie Dodson; Isabel Lucas as his companion, Pauline; with Christopher Lambert as Roy Fortune, the loan shark.  Academy Award-winner Patricia Arquette and nominee Chloë Sevigny, both truly gifted actors, have small roles as a pair of well-to-do women who are enamored with the appealing Dodson.  Patterson deserves bonus points for casting real-life old-school L.A. punk rocker John Doe as a detective hot on Dodson’s trail.   Unfortunately, Jim Sturgess, as capable as he is, just doesn’t come across as the charismatic Dodson, not allowing the viewer to feel any of what the real Dodson emanated towards his bank teller victims.  In fact, I felt no real emotional attachment to any of the characters.  Also, absent from the film was Dodson’s signature New York Yankees baseball cap (he was known as the ‘New York Yankee Bandit,’ after all); the filmmakers opting instead for a black fedora.

Pauline (Lucas) comes across as damaged, though we never know why, and Roy (Lambert) is more campy than menacing, I mean he keeps letting Dodson off the hook without ever breaking even a finger!   The film offers no back story into Dodson and his sense of style; no mention of his expensive drug habit contributing to his financial woes.  This is only alluded to in one scene, yet he appears perpetually high throughout the film.  The film would have benefited from more of his daily relations in his furniture store, or a little more of his interaction with the tellers, showing their reactions and the charm he was known for during his robberies.

Ultimately, Tristan Patterson’s first feature shows his potential in creating an effective cinematic world, as well in evoking the moods that enveloped Dodson’s life.  However, what should have been the easier part of furnishing the viewer with the narrative action falls short.  This is far from a bad movie and I believe Patterson can only improve from here.  However, with such a talented cast, as well as a rich true story and characters from which to draw, this film could have been so much more.

From 3 April 2015 Electric Slide will have limited run in cinemas as well a general VOD release.