Inside The Rain

****

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Inside The Rain
"Fisher has not taken the easy route, of creating Ben as pure victim to rage against the evil and conventional."

Inside the Rain is a challenging film. Challenging because, yes, it sets out to challenge our view of how society deals with people with mental illness. But, for me, challenging to watch because Ben Glass, the youthful 20-something protagonist is not someone whose company I could ever imagine enjoying in everyday life.

And that is an issue – some reviewers pretend otherwise – because while half my job here is to look at the film objectively, analyse, highlight the good, and bad, and provide intelligent insight, that is always difficult to do when you are simultaneously glaring at the screen and going, “You absolute tool!”. Not dissimilar to my feelings for American Beauty which also, like this film, divided the critics. Well-made, beautifully shot - but Oh, those people.

Copy picture

So it is not surprising that, when I take a peek at what other reviewers are doing, I find some who loved this film and some who hated it (as of today, approximately equal numbers of people on IMDB have rated it a 10 and a 1), which is why it currently sits somewhere in the middle of the field. Also interesting that there is a significant gender divide, with men rating it significantly higher than women.

That figures. Because superficially at least, Ben (Aaron Fisher), is a jerk. Loud, angry, selfish, sex-obsessed and projecting a sense of violence just waiting to happen. In many a film, he would make the perfect villain, the guy we love to boo. Yet here, the expectation is that even if we do not do so at first, come the final reel we will be cheering him on.

Inside The Rain delivers two major entwined story arcs. On the one hand, is Ben's search for love and friendship.The trouble is, he arrives complete with a panoply of diagnoses: ADHD, OCD, borderline personality for starters. And he's bipolar. Taken together, these make him a difficult person to love, as his exasperated and long-suffering parents (Paul Schulze and Catherine Curtin) make all too clear.

Issues are exacerbated by his too-quick equation of sex and a one-night stand with eternal romance, and it is following one such encounter with a fellow student that his problems begin. Unable to process rejection, Ben takes refuge in a bottle-full of pills which leads his college to issue a warning. Matters take a turn for the dark when the young woman with whom this encounter took place pops round to apologise, spies Ben sorting through his legitimate meds, and jumps to the wrong conclusion - that he is about to try again.

Cue police intervention and expulsion at the hands of some very unsympathetic college authorities. Which takes us on to the second arc, which is Ben's determination to appeal against what he views as unjust and discriminatory behaviour by making a film to show “what really happened”.

Pressing ahead with this, despite objections from friends and family, he recruits eccentric film director Monty Pennington (Eric Roberts) and strip club worker and occasional porn film star Emma (Ellen Toland) to the cause. And while not all is rosy between them, the second half of the film plays out in touching fashion, the slow blossoming of a relationship between Ben, who is desperate for sex, and Emma, who sees sex as the root of all her problems with men.

Along the way, providing commentary on Ben's flights of fancy and essential foil to his wildness is witty and combative shrink, Dr Holloway (Rosie Perez).

And in the end, while I remain deeply troubled by Ben's character, this is a film I am glad to have seen. It is written and directed by Aaron Fisher, who owns to himself being bipolar, so insofar as it deals with how society misunderstands and mistreats individuals in Ben's position, it comes with a stamp of authenticity. As for the fact that this is a film by an individual with mental health issues about an individual with mental health issues making a film to put his case to the nice but essentially unsympathetic authorities: er, yes. That, alone, is disorienting. More precisely, discombobulating!

Fisher has not taken the easy route, of creating Ben as pure victim to rage against the evil and conventional. He is one of the awkward squad, who truly does not fit. So the question being put here is not, “How could you treat that poor boy so?”, but, “How can both sides get along without one or other irredeemably ruining the quality of life for the other?”.

For this reason, it is more than appropriate that the film ducks and dives constantly between comedy and drama. And then, courtesy of a sensitive, often wistful soundtrack featuring the likes of singer/songwriter

Inside The Rain packshot
College film student Benjamin Glass (played by writer-director Aaron Fisher) has it all: ADHD, OCD, borderline personality. And he’s also bipolar. When a misunderstanding threatens to expel him from college, Glass pushes back.

Festivals:


Search database: