In Focus: ‘Lady Electric’ – A short film by Mirella Christou about a deaf musician’s life

After an accident, deaf musician Rose must find her way in a new city where she’s constantly torn up by her inability to express her musical gifts. An unlikely friendship she develops with a woman named Grace, who she possibly considers as her mentor makes her confront a fear that’s hidden away in the corners of her mundane everyday routine.

‘Lady Electric,’ a film made by an all-woman crew, traverses into the minds of two women, and is inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Inarritu’s 21 Grams, says Mirella Christou, the writer and the director of the film.

Mirella Christou

What strikes me most about Lady Electric is its simplicity, and elegant storytelling – a subtle trip to the dark and deeply embedded fears we have as humans. Especially in the aftermath of having missed or lost something very special to us.

Mild spoilers ahead:

While we all live a life of regrets, and shattered dreams, it is often quite disconcerting to come to terms with it or call it quits. As humans, we have taught ourselves to find a workaround to all scenarios life throws at us. It is under a similar circumstance, Rose, the protagonist tries to revisit her love for music almost every day, but her assumed inability consumes her before she could break it. She ends up spending her time as a nurse’s assistant where she meets Grace, a forgotten nobody of the ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll era. One could speculate the actual interaction Rose and Grace have, and whether Grace is a real person at all.

Dichotomy in the approach to life

While Rose struggles to appreciate music again after receiving a cochlear implant which has distorted her hearing abilities, Grace comes into her life as an antithesis. Grace isn’t the one to worry about her music abilities anymore – she is sure of it, her fear is that of growing old and dying without anyone around her. To her, nobody must second guess themselves in rock ‘n’ roll, ergo, we are as good as we think we are.

Songs and lyrics as tropes

It is quite enjoyable how the director has chosen to weave the music and the songs in the film right to the context. For example, it is very allegorical to both the state of mind of the protagonist, as well as what is about to ensue in the film: “Wouldn’t it be nice to disappear, leave no trace at all?”

A very poignant ending

The plight of a yesteryear artist feeling like she’s been forgotten is the most traumatising of them all. While the passing of the baton is established, whether the baton was always in Rose’s hand is conjectural. As Rose leaves her self-doubting past behind, Grace, who could just as well be imaginary, is left behind as well – whether she ended it all, or has moved on to another realm of existence is again, up to the audience’s perception. I think this is, in a way, a testimony to all the people we once loved, who may or may not be around, but we are doing okay without their physical presence too.

The curious title of the film

I did wonder about the title of the film after the film ended. Could it be a musical reference, a hint at how Rose’s association with music after her implant? So, I thought Mirella would help us all understand the significance of it. She said, “the title Lady Electric has multiple meanings but seemed to work best intuitively. It’s a play of Jimi Hendrix’s studio Electric Lady, which coincides with the era of music that Grace was involved with. Aside from that, Rose herself embodies the name because she hears the world through an electric-acoustic machine implanted in her cochlea. I like that it implies both characters at the same time but for different reasons.”

Screenings, awards and the medical condition

For catching any upcoming screening of Lady Electric, you may keep a close watch on their social media or their website.

Mirella recommends The Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss to be a good place for further reading.

 

‘WMF In Focus’ features films made by a woman, or one that has a predominantly female crew. Have you made a film that fits this bill? Get your crew to sign up, and holler us at contactwmfindia@gmail.com – we would love to showcase you and your work with WMF’s wonderful worldwide community. (Films/web series/music videos/animation can be of any length, genre or type)