Janey is on vacation with her brother, Jim, mother, Kate, and father Ed, at their beach house on the Mahurangi Peninsual in New Zealand. Ed and Kate, who are on the verge of divorce, sit around in the back yard all day drinking whiskey and Janey and Jim are left to their own devices. Cady, a local boatee who is having an affair with Kate, catches Janey's pubescent eye. In response to his wife's drinking problem and recurring infidelity, Ed turns to alcohol, ignoring his children almost as much as his wife, which eventually leads to a character's fate. Written by
It is a nice little film about many subjects; some of which we can relate to, others we hope never to
I am a real sucker when it comes to movies that deal with subjects such as coming-of-age, first loves, families dividing, and independence in the younger generation. So it was no surprise to me that I found myself wrapped in the story of "Rain," a 2001 import from New Zealand about a 13-year-old girl watching her family slowly separate with the coming of a photographer, who takes a shine to her emotion-drained mother. As her mother and the photographer begin an extramarital affair, young Janey also struggles to teach her younger brother in the ways of the world, and combat the fact that she has an attraction toward this man herself.
"Rain" is played with a straight face, but this is to its advantage. It is a nice little film about many subjects; some of which we can relate to, others we hope never to. The plot does not thicken or compound itself with complications and big, astronomical twists. For most of its running time, it's sort of mundane. It almost seems like a Yasujiro Ozu film with a constantly moving camera. It presents life as it is without becoming melodramatic or hyperbolic and I think this is the reason why a lot of us can understand the position of Janey, who is very well-played by Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, and get involved in a story that is edited with gentle pacing.
Some of the directing is a little hampered (no surprise, since it was Christine Jeffs's debut) but is overcome by deliberately rich symbolism. There are symbols and graphic representations found all throughout this movie and a sharp-eyed person will be very appreciative toward them. Example: daughter wants to confront her mother about a touchy issue with a little hostility. Her brother is off to the side, blowing bubbles through his straw into his drink to simulate boiling water: a parallel to the brewing animosity between the two characters.
The movie is also rich with its details about the coming-of-age part of a person's life and this is what, I think, really drew me in. Janey is on-screen almost all of the time and we see her go through the rough parts of growing up. She experiences her first kiss, her first crush on an adult, her strives for independence from her parents brews, her desire to both instruct her younger brother and to get away from him, to stand on her own two feet, etc. We've all been there before. We don't get that many (compelling) coming-of-age stories these days and so a movie like "Rain" is worthy of appreciation.
Performances are very good. Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, most of the time, stays solid in her characters and expresses her emotions (many of them withheld) wonderfully. She's a very good actress. As her emotionally-drained, seemingly lifeless mother, Sarah Peirce is very good, representing her inner feelings remarkably well while keeping a straight, seemingly exanimate face. The same can be said of Alistair Browning as the father. There's great energy in the performance by Aaron Murphy as the young, highly adventurous and free-spirited brother and a solid performance from Marton Csokas, whom "Lord of the Rings" fans are sure to recognize. There's also a very good supporting performance from David Taylor as the boy down the beach with a crush on Janey. His part, though very small, also contributes to this very sweet little painting of a movie.
Warning: parents considering showing this movie to children might want to take into mind a brief, erotic prelude scene to lovemaking, and some brief flashes of male genitalia during a beach scene.
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