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Rain (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailers; Scene Selection; Photo Gallery; Colour Booklet; Director's Commentary; Biographies And Filmographies; Moving Menu.

THE coming of age drama is given a haunting makeover by director, Christine Jeffs, in Rain, a quietly foreboding tale of a 13-year-old girl coming to terms with her sexuality.

Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki stars as Janey, a bored teenager who is once again forced to watch as her family settle into their isolated cottage for another seaside holiday in 1970s New Zealand.

However, while spending her days teaching her brother how to swim, Janey watches from the sidelines as her parents drink and host parties for other holidaymakers in the evenings, observing the burgeoning relationship between her flirtatious mother, Kate (Sarah Peirse), and roguish photographer Cady (Marton Csokas).

And as their ensuing affair threatens to tear Kate’s marriage apart, Janey decides that she wants Cady for herself, and sets about challenging her mother for his affections.

Rather like an approaching storm on the horizon, Jeffs’ film has an air of tragic inevitability about it, which could threaten to undermine the dramatic weight of proceedings.

It is a credit to the director, therefore, that the film retains its sense of sorrow and loss throughout, arriving at its denouement with plenty of force and leaving a lasting impression.

Much of this is achieved through the cleverness of Jeffs’ direction, which expertly makes use of the distinctive landscapes to convey her characters’ emotions, as well as the various techniques she employs, which occasionally lends proceedings an almost surreal, dream-like quality.

She also coaxes a terrifically restrained performance from young Fulford-Wierzbicki, who strikes a near-perfect balance between the fragile naivety of her age, with the more fiery temperament of a young girl struggling to realise her sexuality.

Her seduction of Cady is well-realised and provides the catalyst for the film’s sombre conclusion.

Neil Finn’s brooding score also serves to lend the film its haunting feel, enhancing the visual impact of Jeffs’ direction.

And while the film may ultimately prove to ‘arty’ or ponderous for the majority of the mainstream crowd - who tend to prefer their coming-of-age ‘dramas’ with a little more flesh and a little more gross-out - it is a thoughtful, memorable piece, which more than justifies the director’s inclusion on Variety’s ‘ten directors to watch’ list.

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