blank'/> Cinema Reviews: I Come with the Rain - bit of a wash out despite beautiful ambition

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Come with the Rain - bit of a wash out despite beautiful ambition

Despite a reviewer on Letterboxd suggesting this film fails due to an overuse of style by the director (Tran Anh Hung), I disagree, his typically sensual style and lush, saturated color scheme works well, its simply that this film tries to do too much with it's narrative, symbolism and philosophical questions.

Hung wants us to invest in a story where not only do we have an ex-cop perusing a missing son (Said ex-cop related too much to the serial killer he pursued, becoming "contaminated" in the process), a ruthless crime boss with a sincere and consuming love for his drug addict girlfriend, but we also have to suspend disbelief for a man who can absorb the wounds and illnesses of others and recover from them (and who later becomes a literal Christ figure). Even accepting a potential audience in people like me who adore watching weird cinema and are prepared to take faithful leaps into new territory, this is a lot to demand of an audience for one film, especially one that by and large adopts a naturalistic tone. The Cop becoming killer aspect alone would be subject enough for one film, never mind the miraculous aspect of the healer he's charged with finding.

The Cop's descent into madness comes across as forced and out of place and is hindered by the uninvolving Josh Hartnett (Who I've never rated and can't think of one performance where he's "wowed" me). The actress who plays the crime boss's lover is also a bit weak, you just don't care when she experiences trauma, she doesn't draw you in to empathize with her.

When in the final third of the film Hung attempts to get us to buy into Biblical stories recreated by our leads, it just feels like too much of stretch. It almost works but doesn't quite gel, which is a shame because the level of ambition here is admirable and I will always a praise a film maker trying to show us something different.

It's difficult to work out who this film was aimed at, presumably with an American lead, the detective tracking down missing persons plot and the Asian actors speaking English (often jarringly), Hung and the producers were looking for some kind of crossover appeal and mainstream success. But when you throw a "relating to serial killers" theme and Colonel Kurtz-esque figure into the mix, along with the healer and biblical references, you immediately alienate anyone who wont sit through anything weirder than Gone Girl. The violence is extreme (I.e. beating a homeless man to death with his dead dog) but no more so than the majority of Asian crime cinema.

Ultimately this film is about the beauty of human suffering (Said as much by the serial killer, a solid and typically creepy Elias Koteas), that we all suffer despite our various stations and their is profound humanity and complexity behind our suffering. Pity the film handles this statement rather clumsily.

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