There is something hypnotic about Rain, the directorial debut from Christina Jeffs. At the same time, there is something frustratingly slow about this movie, which tracks the crumbling of a family and the sexual awakening of one of its main characters. Rain, adapted by Jeffs from the book by Kirsty Gunn, takes place in the summer of 1972, on a beach in New Zealand. There, Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki) and her family are on vacation. On the surface, everything is idyllic. Janey is teaching her young brother Jim (Aaron Murphy) to swim. They spend the days splashing around in the water, or wandering around playing. At night, they sit in their rooms and listen to the people who attend their parents' parties.

Relations between Janey's father and mother are strained. Kate (Sarah Peirse, Fable, Heavenly Creatures) does not like where the house is. She sits around all day and drinks, or is recovering from a hangover from the previous day. Ed (Alistair Browning, Vertical Limit, Windrider) spends time playing with the children, fishing, or tending to the chores. Kate and Ed dance around their problems by ignoring each other. Things change when they meet Cady (Marton Csokas, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Monkey's Mask). He takes the family out fishing, and develops an interest in Kate. Janey notices this interest, and it intrigues her. She knows that things are not well between her parents, and now wonders if her mom has a new boyfriend.

Jeffs never shows what Kate and Cady do, but it is obvious. Janey is at the age where she is curious about sex, and seems to enjoy rebuffing a local boy. With her and Cady, things are different. It is as if she is testing her limits and Cady's ability to resist temptation. Janey is trying to look forward in her development, and Cady represents a possible path. They know little about him, so in a way, he portrays the unknown. Jim represents family, comfort, familiarity, and innocence. Every teenager must sooner or later deal with losing innocence and facing temptation.

There is a noticeable lack of almost everything in Rain. Sets are sparse, frequently taking place in wide-open spaces. Jeffs keeps dialogue to a minimum, sometimes relying on music supplied by Neil Finn (ex of Crowded House) and Edmund McWilliams. There are simple scenes of Janey floating in the water, as if she is in a state of limbo. Fulford-Wierzbicki does not articulate much (because of the script) and has a teasing, almost beguiling voice and look about her. The total effect gives a dreamy feeling to Rain, one that it manages to snap out of only sometimes.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 32 minutes, Not Rated but contains mature themes, a PG-13 or possibly an R.

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