Even the Rain
A Playlist of History on Loop
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Luis Tosar
Review by Robert Patrick
“Even the Rain” is sewn with heavy handed fingers, rustic palms, and furrowed brows. There are messages woven into the jacket of this story, containing an entirely different color of thread, that stand out to the naked eye. Nothing is done with subtlety, and most of the movie hits you on the head, aggressively, like an honors student delivering a history paper with a bit too much confidence. Director Icíar Bollaín has good intentions: she clearly wants us to realize that history repeats itself. Here, she paints this image with a paintbull gun instead of a brush.
“Even the Rain” focuses on a film crew, headed by the youthful Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his overzealous producer Costa (Luis Tosar), who decide to make a picture about the Spanish conquest of America. Instead of creating a grandiose feature, romanticizing the exploration of the new world, they want to produce a picture that illuminates the pitted malfeasance of Columbus’ marred social construct. Sebastian and Costa thumbtack Boliva on the map, knowing that it is a cheaper location to film. The two joke about how much money they will save, how little they will pay the extras.
In the meantime, the bottle of civility is about to break in Bolivia, and the jagged remains of that very politeness is about to become sharp discord. The government is monopolizing water, and the end result is causing the residents of Cochabamba to pick up arms. Extras of Sebastian’s film are participating, and in the one case, one of the film’s biggest stars, initially unbeknownst to the crew, is at the vanguard of this uprising. All of the crew members, who were once christening wine against their lips, are now rattling with unease.
“Even the Rain” is a public service announcement about how history is a toy eightball with only a limited amount of possible outcomes. The past is a precursor for future history. The poor are always a body of water away from being waterboarded. And the rich will always be a manhole away from the hands of the underground resistance. This particular picture, with its fine cast and respectable performances, is like a simplistic reminder of the aforementioned truths. The dialogue doesn’t always seem natural, and the pacing of the film is a little sluggish, but the message is loud and clear: don’t forgot the lessons of past teachers.
Because “Even the Rain” comes off more as a history lesson taught by a lazy teacher than a movie made by a artisan filmmaker, you become slightly disengaged with the action on screen. Everything is made exponentially more predictable by the fact that the entire movie is given away in the trailer. Two daft filmmakers visit impoverished country. Witness uprising. Realize the parallels between their film and what is happening in present day. Oh boy, I wonder if they become better people and figure out how to help those around them.
Gael Garcia Bernal is always a pleasure to watch, but in this movie, where he does nothing but act oblivious to his surroundings, he is more of a familiar face and less of a three-dimensional character (think Matt Damon in “Invictus”.) Aside from his name being a paperweight to hold down the posters of this movie, there is no reason for him to be in this picture. He is given nothing to do but sigh and look solemn. Why is his character, Sebastian, so set on telling this story? What is his background? Why does he find himself so immune to the crisis situation around him when everyone else is so stirred? He reacts, not because his character tells him to, but because the movie does. Bernal is playing a prop and not a person.
“Even the Rain” is a storyboard of what a good idea could be if it hadn’t been lost in translation. The motivation is there, but the execution is not.