Title: Rain (2008)
Rain is a sheltered teenager who lives with her caring
grandmother on Ragged Island, a fishing island with a population under 100.
When her guardian dies, she takes a boat to Nassau to live with her mother, a
prostitute with a drug addiction, gambling problem and HIV infection. They live
in a rundown slum called The Graveyard, named for its reputation as an
inescapable hellhole. Rain is, unsurprisingly, scared and lonely, trying to
connect with her mother, adjust to formal schooling and make friends. Things
start to improve when she finds a school teacher who takes a shine to her and
develops her natural talent for cross-country running, offering her a shot at a
scholarship and a better life. Meanwhile, her mother’s bitter
self-destructiveness and emotional defenses thaw, giving her a reason to clean
up her life or at least make the attempt.
Although Rain premise takes the form of a conventional underdog
melodrama (of a type I tend to avoid), it overcomes its dependency on clichés
by staying honest and keeping the crux of the story on the rocky
mother-daughter relationship. The mother’s performance is wonderfully real and
nuanced. It’s a stubborn last stand against acknowledging that she’s spiraling
towards rock bottom; full of pride for her small sphere of independence,
undigested anger for herself, her mother and her situation, and a natural but
half-atrophied capacity for trust, joy and maternity. The coach-pupil plot
fares less well, since the coach, for the sake of the narrative, behaves as
though she has no other students and no personal life, tirelessly dedicating
herself to Rain without ever dropping her gentle smile. There’s no real insight
into the sport, but it doesn’t really matter since it’s just a placeholder.
Most will find that the emotional core and the performances are what matter
most and those hold up. I particularly liked a few of the minor characters,
like the best friend, who is vain and brazen but a good pal, and a crazy
homeless preacher whose creepiness comes from the contrast between his
obviously sick intentions and the righteous babble he spouts.
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