Palm Trees and Power Lines- A Cautionary Tale About Predators

Coming-of-age films come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are about boys growing up and other times they are about girls trying to find their way in the world. Palm Trees and Power Lines is about the latter. It also has an undercurrent of something sinister going on in it. This film won’t be easy for most people to watch but it’s rewarding for those that do give it a chance.

Lea (Lily McInerny) is your average seventeen-year-old girl on her summer break from high school. She hangs out with her friends drinking and smoking as teens will do. She has a relatively good relationship with her mother Sandra (Gretchen Mol) but sometimes they butt heads. One evening while hanging out at a local diner with her friends she catches the eye of a man sitting in another booth. While walking home Tom (Jonathan Tucker) pulls up and offers her a ride. Little does she know this will be the beginning of a relationship with a man twice her age.

This film is based on the short film of the same name by director and writer Jamie Dack. This material is based on a real-life experience that she encountered. It is an important subject matter for this writer and director. This disconnected teen is like a lot of girls her age. They tend to be lonely and are looking for someone who is interested in them. Whether it be their own age or not. The character played by Tucker shows her kindness and takes her places and buys her things. This is just what a teen of this ilk is looking for in a man. The problem is he is grooming her for something sinister.

Grooming is a term that applies to men who pretend to like and take care of younger girls such as teenagers and then try to pimp them out to other men who pay for sexual intercourse. This is an epidemic in Southern California where this film takes place. The porn industry is also very prevalent in this part of the country. It’s very accessible for teens who are looking for companionship and or a quick buck. It’s sad though that this happens to so many young women in this country.

The director makes California a character in the movie as well as the human characters. This part of the state seems a bit run down and it makes sense that a young girl of this age would want something better. She sees her mother in multiple relationships with men and that gets her thinking she wants this life. She is a smart girl but she doesn’t know any better than what she sees in her mother. So using her body to get forward in life is all that makes sense to her. Even though she has friends that care for her she discards them.

Lily McInerny is a new actress to me. This is the first thing I’ve ever seen her in but she holds her own against other actors who’ve been in the industry for a while now. She has a presence on screen that is beyond her years. Her performance is one that will get her noticed by other casting directors and studios. She controls all the scenes she’s in like a pro. She comes across as a teenager who is looking for a better life perfectly. Her shy nature at times plays into the character. She is a young access to watch for in the future.

Palm Trees and Power Lines is a cautionary tale about sexual predators who prey on lonely and awkward young women. This film should be a warning for parents and teens alike that if you need help there are people who care. Whether it be teachers or coaches or even friends. You need to notice if a young person is acting odd or out of character. Reach out and see if you can help them. Parents also need to notice odd behavior in teens, especially girls. McInerny is very good in this role but the script and direction from Dack is the real champion here in this little indie film.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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