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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
"Rain" adds a striking share to a trilogy of recent films with "Fat Girl (a ma soeur)" and "Girls Can't Swim (Les filles ne savent pas nager)" about young teen girls on vacation Down the Shore with neglectful parents and annoying and sometimes adorable siblings, with each taking a different approach to their sexual exploration.
Based on a novella by Kirsty Gunn, New Zealander writer/director Christine Jeffs makes a powerful debut, capturing what the world of dysfunctional marriage, alcoholism, depression and adultery looks like to a girl trying to figure out how to model her behavior.
Maybe it's that antipodean take on larrikins, but Jeffs more than the other women filmmakers visually shows just how powerful a draw a sexy man is to a rebellious girl and her frustrated mother -- and maybe how unfortunately irresistible they are to him too ("Like mother, like daughter," he knowingly says.).
The patronizing guy in back of me completely disagreed with my interpretation focusing on the girl, instead going on that the movie was really about man's spiritual (and other) impotence causing depression or some such.
The beautiful music was by Neil Finn, with an excellent range of moody pop songs mostly by him, and others such as Lisa Germano, that communicated the girl's thoughts, though I can't tell if they are original to the movie.
I read the book to see if what I think was left a bit unresolved in the movie was in the book as well. The movie well captures the languorous poetry of the book and follows the basic plot, but emphasizes more the competition of the girl vs. the mother differently and the girl's growing pains, while the book stresses the sibling relationship, quite beautifully.
(originally written 5/11/2002)
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