Rain

on April 26, 2002 by Annlee Ellingson
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   Writer/director Katherine Lindberg is a protégé of Martin Scorsese, having won the auteur's Young Filmmaker Fellowship Award and shadowed him on the set of “Kundun.” His influence is apparent in her accomplished feature debut, “Rain,” which exudes meaning in every shot choice.

   Set in the intense isolation of rural Iowa, the film opens with an adulterous couple meeting for their nightly tryst near the train tracks on an abandoned country road. The jilted wife, Ellen (Melora Walters), waits at home, standing in her kitchen through the night until he returns home at dawn, her still exterior barely containing the ire raging within. Then she pulls out a high-powered hunting rifle and shoots him dead.

   But Ellen is not so innocent herself. Her husband's mistress, Patsy (Jo Anderson), is married to Tom (Jamey Sheridan), a prodigal son who has returned to his hometown as a law enforcement officer and is now running for mayor. Tom and Ellen share a mysterious history, but it is his son from a previous relationship, Richard (Kris Park), whom she sleeps with now.

   Soon Richard is entangled in Ellen's revengeful act and is plotting a scheme of his own to build a life with her. But a long-buried secret will surface with the rain and compel Ellen to cleanse herself for good.

   The film's characters are sensitively drawn and portrayed: Ellen is enigmatic in her intentions until the end. One is not even sure that she's aware of her actions. Tom is earnest in his bid to build a respectable life, or at least the appearance of one. Patsy is hysterical in her pursuit of real love. And, though culpable, Richard is at his core a naïve, if well-meaning, kid.

   Lindberg demonstrates a remarkable sense of place, a keen understanding that emotions are boiled into a concentrate, not diluted, in the rural setting. Every image she has shot is an indelible one--cows grazing in cornfields under a vast, bright night sky; a single incriminating drop of blood clinging to crumbling wallpaper--advancing the mood and the tone of the film. Her pacing is slow--like the restrained rhythm of country life--building deliberately as her characters' passions roil below the surface until they explode. Starring Melora Walters, Kris Park, Jamey Sheridan, Diane Ladd, Joe Anderson and Ellen Muth. Directed and written by Katherine Lindberg. Produced by Jordi Ross. No distributor set. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 97 min

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