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Rain - Preview



Preview by: Jack Foley

A FESTIVAL favourite at Cannes, Sundance and Toronto in recent years, Christine Jeffs' Rain finally gets a UK release on June 27.

Based on Kirsty Gunn's acclaimed novel of the same name, the film is set in the early 70s and focuses on 13-year-old Janey (Fulford-Wierczbicki) and her family, as they settle into their isolated cottage for another perfect seaside holiday in New Zealand.

While the children play on the beach, the parents drink, bicker and host parties for other holiday-makers.

However, Janey has reached that awkward stage in her life; no longer a child, but not quite an adult.

She spends her days teaching her little brother how to swim, but, at the parties she sits on the sidelines observing and judging the sexual tensions between the adults, in particular the flirtation between her mother, Kate, and handsome photographer, Cady.

In turn, Kate is threatened by her daughter blossoming into maturity and bored by her husband’s contentment with life.

She responds to Cady’s admiration and - never the most domestic mother - turns away from her family to glow in her own re-awakened sexuality.

Janey challenges her mother for the attentions of Cady until the struggle for control reaches a tragic denouement.

Described by American Vogue as a ‘spectacularly sultry film’ this is a beautiful, provocative reflection on childhood and the transience of relationships, which helped Jeffs to earn a place on Variety's Ten Directors to Watch list.

It is also boosted by John Toon’s cinematography, as well as Neil Finn’s dark, atmospheric score, and is a powerful entry into the over-populated coming-of-age genre.

According to the director herself: "I wanted to convey a sense of the transience, in that relationships come and go, and that the moment is precious.

"In Rain the audience goes on a journey with a young girl who is exploring complex questions of power and control. Janey makes some serious choices, which have very unexpected results."

US reaction

The US response to the movie was largely positive, with many hailing Jeffs as a director to watch.

The New York Post leads the way by observing that 'some of the visual flourishes are a little too obvious, but restrained and subtle storytelling, and fine performances make this delicate coming-of-age tale a treat'.

Likewise the Los Angeles Times, which wrote that 'Jeffs has created a breathtakingly assured and stylish work of spare dialogue and acute expressiveness'.

The New York Times, meanwhile, felt that 'Jeff's gorgeous, fluid compositions, underlined by Neil Finn and Edmund McWilliams's melancholy music, are charged with metaphor, but rarely easy, obvious or self-indulgent'.

And staying in the Big Apple, the New York Observer wrote that 'it has more than a few moments that are insightful enough to be fondly remembered in the endlessly challenging maze of moviegoing'.

The Philadelphia Inquirer stated, simply, that it is 'a quiet, disquieting triumph'.

Less complimentary, however, were the likes of One Guy's Opinion, which warned that, 'unless you enjoy watching repeated shots of people waking up in an alcoholic stupor, you're likely to find 'Rain' a cinematic washout'.

And Village Voice opined that 'the dialogue is cumbersome, the simpering soundtrack and editing more so'.

Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, wrote that it 'freights a young girl's self-destructive eagerness to lose her virginity with so much danger and even horror that it's as if the events were trying to make up for the film's previous lack of drama'.

But they were largely in the minority, with the good word being continued by the Hollywood Reporter, which wrote that it is 'a master work in miniature, an unsentimental yet not unsympathetic portrait of a family falling apart in slow motion'.

The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, noted that it is 'far from the first female coming-of-age movie, but it's one of the most vivid', while E! Online noted that 'Fulford-Wierzbicki turns in an astutely assured performance as the Lolita-wannabe, and director Christine Jeffs brings a poetic sensuality to the understated tensions'.

The last word, however, goes to the Washington Post, which concluded that, 'it is, like weather, what it is, neither good nor bad but something that feels as if it has the weight of the inevitable'.

 

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