Bolivia, 2000. Filming in the poorest regions of South America in order to keep production costs down, idealistic director Sebastian (Bernal) and money-conscious producer Costa (Tosar) arrive to shoot an epic about Christopher Columbus’ conquest of the New World. Problems arise, however, when Daniel (Aduviri), a striking local who is cast in a significant role, leads a series of demonstrations against the Bolivian government and their plans to privatise water supplies. With his revolutionary involvement continually threatening to derail filming, Sebastian and Costa scrabble to save their project, gradually becoming more aware of the real-world problems as the protests intensify…
A Spanish language film (yup, that means subtitles) which is written by a Scot and concerned with movie-making amidst Third World water privatisation, Even The Rain isn’t what you’d call an easy sell. Importantly though, it’s certainly one which deserves to be sold, as said Scot is Paul Laverty (the man known as Ken Loach’s regular screenwriting collaborator) and together with life partner Icíar Bollaín (who directs), the result is an engrossing, thought-provoking piece. Of course, having a film crew miss their own exploitation of the natives while making a film about the same thing could’ve come across as heavy-handed in lesser hands. But Laverty and Bollaín are too smart for that, as they skillfully merge personal themes with political ones to compelling effect.
A festival hit which was inspired by true events, Even The Rain has also drawn comparisons with the acclaimed work of Werner Herzog. We have an obsessive protagonist (filmmaker Sebastian), impossible dreams (getting the movie made), a civilisation self-destructing and beautiful photography, but nowhere are such comparisons more prominent than during the film-within-the-film (we see a few atmospheric scenes from Sebastian’s Columbus epic). Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal plays his part well as the idealistic director (another actor underrated because of his looks?), but it ends up being Luis Tosar’s film as he ensures that his penny-saving producer’s emotional arc is both credible and captivating. Perhaps, Juan Carlos Aduviri’s Daniel is too unlikeable to illicit as much sympathy from his cause as the plot requires, but what he lacks in likeability he more than makes up for in intensity.
As a subtitled movie about filmmaking and Third World hardships, Even The Rain might not be an easy sell, but it’s an engrossing, thought-provoking piece which deserves to be seen. Beautifully shot, superbly acted and fantastically written, it’s frequently compelling stuff.