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Even the Rain (Icíar Bollaín, 2010)

May 31, 2012

Originally written for Reel Time, now at Sound on Sight

Written by regular Ken Loach collaborator Paul Laverty and directed by a former Loach film star, it is perhaps unsurprising that Even the Rain is full of social-realist characteristics associated with the British filmmaker. Its focus concerns the intertwining of a fictional film production about Christopher Columbus’ legacy and the real-life events of a battle to prevent the privatisation of water in the Bolivian area where the production is taking place. The screenplay draws parallels between the 2000 water conflict of Cochabamba and the colonisation efforts of Christopher Columbus during his time as governor in the Caribbean in the late 1400s, and also those between the multinationals trying to control the population’s basic resources and the film crew attempting to exploit the residents of this cost-saving location choice.

The film’s biggest problem is that its characterisation is so often one-note. Luis Tosar’s bullish producer, for example, has a change of heart regarding the worth of intervening in the crossfire, but this is done through a narrative mechanism that is rather feeble and ends up presenting the emotional journey of the character in an overly simplistic fashion. Gael Garcia Bernal’s director, meanwhile, is pretty much free of any nuance; despite attempts to add levels of complexity, the characters, for the most part, fail to exceed one dimension, bar Karra Elejalde’s volatile and articulately outspoken actor.

The film is admirable from a humanist standpoint, moderately engaging and pleasingly photographed, but it never really excels in any regard. As with some of Laverty and Loach’s efforts, the socially-conscious message of the film seems to have been the launch pad for its conception, rather than a story reflecting those issues. It is a commendable effort, but it’s underwhelming in its lack of sophistication.

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