Rain

Rain (Christine Jeffs, 2003) NZ; wr. Christine Jeffs, novel Kirsty Gunn; Sarah Peirse, Marton Csokas, Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki, Alistair Browning, Aaron Murphy; Metro, 136: 78-80; 82-85; 'Endurance' is 'holding on ... it's holding on, and now it's my turn.' 'So then we just went on.' A special little coming-of-age film.

While Jeffs proves highly adept at creating interesting and believable female characters and an evocative atmosphere, her script ultimately falls back upon stereotypical and formulaic fates for her female characters. In this sense Jeffs seems to be more interested in manipulating her characters in order to pass judgement upon and subsequently punish them, rather than really engaging with the characters and their circumstances. This is most apparent at the end of the film when, after having established the leisurely pace of the film, Jeffs deals a concurrent double blow to her women; Janey’s curiosity leads her out of her depth and she instigates sex with Cady and, due to Janey’s neglect, Jim drowns in the ocean. The film directly attributes responsibility of Jim’s death to Kate and Janey’s self involvement, reiterating the (previously common) theme that women who step outside what are deemed to be their sexual roles in society, or who act upon their desires must be punished. In Rain the punishment of these women seems far in excess of their guilt. Lydia Brisbout.

Christine Jeffs’ debut film has rightly attracted attention as a cinematic work of great subtlety and visual power. ... The film’s constant mood of melancholy and its unhurried narrative are masterfully controlled. But ... in trying to capture the novel’s deeper intimate resonances, the film has – ironically - distanced us from the characters. ... We aren’t given enough insight into the adults to make them tangible nor to speculate on their real feelings. But I don’t mean to sound too negative: the film is an achievement in many ways, and heralds a fine new talent. Andrew Urban, Urban Cinefile.

Set in a '70s beachside cottage, where neglected children behave like adults and neglectful adults behave like children, Rain could be New Zealand's answer to The Ice Storm, another moral drama about a family that buckles under the decaying values of the previous decade. But while Jeffs ... has a wonderful feeling for the sights and sounds of summer… she treats her characters with a heavy hand. ... Though she possesses an impeccable eye for the sun-dappled beauty of the landscape and the body, Jeffs also has a weakness for her own poetic imagery, pausing at times for slow-motion interludes and a few occasional shots in black and white. As a result, Rain lays so much portent on every scene that it becomes ungenerous and morally forbidding. Scott Tobias.


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