Even The Rain

Even The Rain

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

If you think the idea of a multinational company controlling the water supply with a view to selling it back to the local populace at an inflated price sounds like something that only happens in science-fiction dystopias, think again. In the Bolivian city of Cochabamba it became a hot button issue in 2000 after the World Bank demanded the country privatise its water distribution before it would 'renew' its loan to them. The resulting hikes in water prices from the US firm that took over led to protests which, in turn, led to a disproportionate amount of violence from the security forces.

Scriptwriter Paul Laverty (who is the long-time partner of director Icíar Bollaín) uses this as the backdrop for Even The Rain, which seeks to stress that the abuse of the indigenous population stretches right back to the moment when Christopher Columbus set foot on Bolivian shores with a view to exploiting the Indians for gold, no matter what the cost.


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To do this, Laverty uses a 'film within a film' device, showing a foreign movie crew arriving in the city to make a historical film. Idealistic director Sebastian (Gael García Bernal) is determined to show the destruction Columbus wrought but his producer Costa (Luis Tosar) is more concerned with the bottom line and getting in and out of the place with minimal problems.

The only problem is, Sebastian has cast local Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) in the key role of Hatuey - the first Indian to be burned at the stake - despite the fact that he is a key leader of the water protests, meaning he is a prime candidate to get a beat down from the security services every time he goes on the demo. As time goes on, it seems that Costa might be about to grow a conscience, even as it becomes apparent that Sebastian may not be as in tune with the locals as he thought he was. And so, layered into this present as a mirror of the past allegory, is the exploitation of the populace by the film crew.

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The film's heart is certainly in the right place, but its narrative is more of a scattergun affair. The parallels between the time periods are clear but the message of continued exploitation is laid on to such a thickness it gums up the narrative, even though the film is impressively shot. The convoluted set-up also results in character development falling victim. Bernal never really gets his teeth into Sebastian, so it is left for Aduviri and Tosar to largely force home the film's emotional impact between them. Tosar, in particular, has always had a big screen presence, and he uses it here to good effect but there's a sense of finer consideration of morality being bulldozed out of the way to make sure Costa makes it to redemption on time.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2012
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A movie crew shooting a film about Columbus find themselves caught up in modern-day protests.
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