* Prices may differ from that shown
Star - Gael Garcia Bernal
Genre - World Cinema
County - Mexico/Bolivia
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 103 minutes
Blockbusters - £.0 per night rental
Amazon - £12.84 DVD (£23.99 Blue Ray)
Ever wondered what Quantum of Solace was all about? Well it was inspired by the 2000 Bolivian water crisis, known as the 'Cochabamba Protests'. Bolivia had to privatize all its utilities - airlines, telecommunications and hydrocarbon industries over a twenty year period to stay eligible for World Bank Loans as hyperinflation took hold. The restoring of civilian rule to Bolivia in 1982 ended 40 years of military dictatorships, but did not bring economic calm. In 1985, with that inflation at an annual rate of 25 thousand percent, few foreign investors would do business in the country and so they were forced into the arms of the IMF and so the World Bank.
Under Law 2029 vital life sustaining water supplies were also up for grabs for greedy western companies to exploit, which they did, the price rising rapidly for urban consumers every year as the build cost was added to the household water bills. In rural areas of Bolivia the locals had their own methods of irrigation and water collection and it was all for free. But Semepa, who had the contract for the million strong city of Cochabamba, had other ideas. But the people rebelled, locals pouring down from the mountains like the summer rain as Semepa planned to build a huge dam in the valley to steel the water supply and so the monopoly, hence the title of the film, Even the Rain.
This rather clever and layered movie is all about that protests and bought to you by the Latin cinema God that is Gael Garcia Bernal, the young man that seems to be the west's only connection to Latin cinema these days alongside the always excellent Javier Bardem, Amores Peres and the Motor Cycle Diaries making Bernal's name. There are so money lovely films made in South America and great actors in them and yet we only know a handful of them, the actors that try to make it in Hollywood or with Tom Cruise.
The ambitious premise here for director Iciar Bolian is to film a film within a film and a rebellion within a rebellion, comparing Christopher Columbus takeover of the Americas and its gold to that of the theft of the continents natural resources by the likes of Bechtel and Shell, both wearing hard hats, one lot in yellow, the others in armored silver and chainmail. It's an intelligent concept for a movie and foreign film fans will be engrossed by this, as will the ladies to Gael Garcia Bernal smoldering brown eyes and sexy accent. I'm telling you now that these are the films you guys need to be watching.
Luis Tosar ... Costa
Gael García Bernal ... Sebastián
Juan Carlos Aduviri ... Daniel / Atuey
Karra Elejalde ... Antón / Colón
Raúl Arévalo ... Juan / Montesinos
Carlos Santos ... Alberto / Las Casas
Cassandra Ciangherotti ... María
Milena Soliz ... Belén / Panuca
Leónidas Chiri ... Teresa
Ezequiel Díaz ... Bruno
=== The Plot ===
A Mexican film crew has arrived in the rural Cochabamba region of Bolivia to make their low budget movie about the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World, and the eventual conquest of the indigenous population into forced labor to rape the lands of gold. Director Sebastián (Gael García Bernal), producer Costa (Luis Tosar) and casting director Maria (Cassandra Ciangherotti) have set up an office in town and beginning to cast, the extras and most of the main parts coming from the locals, offering as little as $2 a day so another big saving, why they chose Bolivia to film.
The queues snake around the block and a thousand or more wanting the roles but only 45 people needed. Sebastian really likes the rather bolshie Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) to play a big part, that of rebel Tainio Indian 'Atuey', who leads the fight back against Columbus and his soldiers. Costa, on the other hand, thinks Daniel is trouble and will set the picture back, which turns out to be right as Daniel is also a prominent figure in the exploding water privatization demonstrations in the city. The locals are now paying up to 40% of their wages for water they were once getting for free, an American private company taking over the rights at the governments bequest to insure supply the town and surrounding area, ripping up decades old farming water courses and irrigation systems in the process to create demand.
A Spanish stage actor, Antón (Karra Elejalde), is the established name in the film and every inch the pompous drunk. The crew are living well in a 4 star hotel and argue passionately with good food and wine after the days shoot about what is going on in town to hide their borzoi's guilt. But as each day passes the riots are getting more serious and one or two cast members getting locked up for their protesting, setting the film back even more. The morality of Columbus and the Conquistadors theft of most of the New Worlds gold through forced labor, and far worse, is beginning to echo what's going on with the water in Cochabamba, drawing in the cast & crew to take sides, much to the ire of the local mayor who invited them to film in his area in the first place. How can they not have an opinion considering the movie they are making?
=== Results ===
Even the Rain is a top class and intelligent movie from South America. It makes you think and your blood boil at the same time, how the west exploits the third world pretty disgraceful. Its black and white in its moral intent, but all manner of fascinating detail exists around the edges of the main story. The film crew were once liberal idealist and protesting against this very stuff at university but now establishment and representing the struggle on screen. The film they should be making is right in front of them.
It's just a clever mechanism with in a film to put the capitalism argument of privatization without actually making it a movie about that. The guilt is firmly placed on the educated middle-class film crew for the exploitation of the continent and so you the viewer (well, the working-class don't watch subtitled movies) exempt. Gael Garcia Bernal isn't as good as he usually is and it's Luis Tosar who becomes the conscious of the movie, everyone else bringing something to the party.
Some of the locals who are paid to be in the film, in the film, are actual locals and so that adds an extra dimension to the movie, one of many. As I said before there is a whole lot of stuff going on in here and left to the viewer to unpick it. The stunning Bolivian locations add yet more flavors to the film and the subtitles not too intense, reason enough not to rent for some. It just has all the passionate elements that make Latin films so powerful. Again, if you are a world cinema fan then this will surely be on your shopping list, if just for Gael García Bernal. There are a fair few good scenes in the movie and a film you need to see if you fancy something smart and with integrity.
=== Ratings ===
Imdb.com - 7.2/10.0 (5,487 votes)
Metacritc.com - 69% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 88% critic's approval rating
Hollywood reporter -'A splendid film about a movie crew blindsided by the real world'.
The Telegraph -'Icíar Bollaín melds passionate art with profound politics in this well-conceived, brilliantly acted drama'.
Total Film -'It's an undeniably didactic drama, but scores points for stylistic ambition and its heartfelt sympathies towards the dispossessed'.
Eye for Film -'The film's heart is certainly in the right place, but its narrative is more of a scattergun affair'.
Oregon Times -'It starts as clever, but it ends in real feeling.
NY Times -' "Even The Rain" is alive to the political echoes that reverberate between the 500-year-old film-within-a-film and its contemporary setting. Sometimes those echoes get a little too loud, but in general, this is thoughtful and relevant filmmaking.
Movie Nation -' Well-acted and always with an ear cocked, listening for its own social relevance'.