Some of Australian director Jane Campion's creepy attention to female desire, a la Sweetie and The Piano, crops up in this quietly intense film set in 1972 New Zealand. The movie is about a crumbling marriage and a nascent feud between a mother, who feels her freedom and sexuality retreating, and her teenage daughter, who's just beginning to taste her own percolating sexual power.
A stewing tension hangs thickly in the air. The hostility is intensified by an idle vacation by the water and massive quantities of alcohol consumed by mom Kate (Sarah Peirse), who sits in the sun with a liquor bottle and a set-up of lemons and ice within arm's reach while Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki) and her tagalong brother Jim (Aaron Murphy) play. The alcohol fuels the sense of tension looking for an outlet and a family unit bent on some manner of implosion. Kate is an intense, internal anti-Mom with Joan Crawford cheekbones and an earthy, lived-in beauty. She and husband Ed (Alistair Browning) take turns knocking back the booze as their marriage is slowly, imperceptibly (every action in this film feels nearly subliminal) undermined by an aimless hunk named Cady (Marton Csokas) and a blank, expendable girlfriend, who disappears when necessary.
Though the action is minimal and characters seem to listlessly and ineffectively stew and scheme, Rain is a psychological powder keg. Most of the film concerns the clotted, claustrophobic voyeurism of family, in which members watch each other and take measure of action and meanings, waiting to pounce when the time is right. Janey appraises her mother's developing attraction to Cady. Ed looks affable, oblivious and drunk, but listens to his family's conversations from behind a novel. Jim watches his sister's first, awkward deployment of her sexual charms on a hapless local kid.
The same muggy, potentially dangerous sexuality that has driven thinking films about girl desire makes this hypnotic film about sex and family pulse with a sense of disaster waiting around every corner. At Tara Cinema.
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