REVIEW by Willard Manus
Time was, a coming-of-age story about a teenager learning about sex from an older person would always have a boy as its hero. Things are different, though, in the 21st century. Thanks to feminism and its resulting wave of women filmmakers, more often than not the focus of these stories will be a young girl.
A case in point is
RAIN, a first feature by New Zealand writer/director
Jeffs' family drama, shot on a miniscule budget, takes place in a distant corner of New Zealand, at the edge of an estuary overlooked by a string of cottages inhabited by a bunch of people who while the summer away by swimming, fishing, boating and partying. The group's langorous days and nights under warm Pacific skies are skilfully brought to life by Jeffs, who shows a strong visual style that is matched by her deft touch with actors.
Jeffs also contributes
an understated script which shies away from big
The story is narrated
by Janey, a convincing mixture of girlishness and
The amount of booze
consumed in this 90-minute feature would make a
There is a price to pay for this kind of self-indulgent behavior, and the irony (and strength) of the film is that the one person who understands this suffers the most. To explain this would give away the ending of RAIN. Suffice to say that the film hits hard in its climactic scenes and comes to a tragic but inevitable conclusion.
RAIN works on various levels. Not only is it a coming-of-age story but a compelling study of a mother-daughter relationship. It also has things to say about marriage, aging and sex in our time. Beautifully shot by John Toon (who is especially good at capturing the many colors and essences of the sea), RAIN has a fresh, lyrical feel to it. Although it is often undermined by its musical score (Neil Finn's songs keep tipping off the action in lugubrious fashion), the film must be counted as a success.