Rain Movie Review

Few coming-of-age films are able to capture the adolescent experience without hiding a moral agenda. In drama especially, teens are told to not do drugs, explore sex, or fight with their parents because there will be dire consequences waiting for them near the end of the movie.

Rain, from the novel of the same name, goes beyond simple rebellion to powerfully evoke the erratic emotional needs of 14-year-old Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki). Janey's parents are too busy boozing and soaking up sun (separately) to really notice her or her younger brother Jim (Aaron Murphy), whom she is forced to take care of. Her parents aren't evil, but they increasingly lack the ability to communicate with each other, much less their kin. Thankfully, there's no easy answer given for the slowly dissolving marriage, which richly parallels Janey's indecisiveness from one moment to the next.

Enter an eccentric photographer named Cady (Marton Csokas) who lives on a boat. Janey's mother, Kate (Sarah Peirse) takes a shine to him, and the perceptive Janey sees infidelity brewing before from the start. The possibility alone plays an engaging dual role for the young girl, as both curse and inspiration. Her innocent father becomes more depressed by the hour at losing the battle, but Janey is finding a femininity within herself, previously unrecognizable, through watching her mother disrespect her vows.

For all the mental upheaval that the teenage years bring, Rain depicts this climactic summer through admirable subtlety. The dialogue is sparse and never reaches a melodramatic pitch. Even when the "adults" argue, the conversation lasts no more than a few seconds and is based on a specific physical detail instead of overly emoting about who is to blame.

With her debut feature, Christine Jeffs wisely focuses on the strength of body language and glances that somehow never come across as "acting." The well-paced narrative keeps its stride with Janey's various experiments, without annoyingly highlighting any of them as the most important. If it weren't for several (fairly irrelevant) black and white slow motion shots, you could assume that cameras were simply placed about the house of a family for the summer, the most interesting pieces cut together.

While Rain felt longer than its 92 minutes, the overall result is an intelligent, realistic portrayal of testing boundaries. You're never quite sure what Janey is trying to accomplish when she takes steps away from responsibility, and she probably doesn't either. This makes her both addictively watchable and easy to sympathize with, even when she's in error.

Janey's story may not reflect every young woman figuring herself out, but a universal quality remains with Rain because it maintains the imperfect nature of being human throughout. Though there are moments of triumph, nothing is ever swiftly solvable. Mistakes are made, but that doesn't mean we won't try the same acts again. The best part of Janey's rebellion is that sometimes it works out for the best, sometimes not; neither outcome is revealed through a judgmental haze. There is no easy path to growing up, and Rain certainly compels you to accept this.

Comments

Rain Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 2002

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