Saturday, July 16, 2011

Aquatic Cinematic ("Even the Rain" Movie Review) by Alison Ross

One of the most ironic and indicting, yet clearest and cleverest movies I have seen in a good long while is Tambien La Lluvia (Even the Rain). The fragmented, elliptical title only makes sense in context, of course, but once the phrase is uttered by a central character in the film, it attains heartwrenching gravity.

Agua, naturally, is the resource that gives the film focus, but there is a framing device that also ends up mirroring the activity happening within the frame. Sebastian and Costa are filmmakers and friends, and they have chosen Bolvia as the site for their movie about Christopher Columbus and his Spanish conquest. With their film, the pair intend to relentlessly reveal the brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples at the hands of Columbus and his crew, and in turn subvert the traditional (and deliberately obfuscating) narrative that touts the conquistadores as "benevolent saviors" of "regressive" cultures.

The problem is, Sebastian and Costa have come to Bolivia because they are operating on a tight budget and need cheap labor. The Bolivians are ripe for this type of manipulation, and of course eagerly audition for roles in the film. Initially, no one ascertains the bitter hypocrisy of the filmmakers exploiting indigenous people in a film about the exploitation of indigenous people. But as the story unravels, the central character, especially, discerns the mistreatment, in light of the Water Wars taking place in Bolivia as the film is being made.

The Water Wars, naturally, is the 2000event that surrounded the corporate takeover of Boliva's H20 supply, which thereby deprived the Bolivians of their rightful access to the most essential resource. British and American companies were the perpetrators of this privatization scheme - modern-day corporate conquistadores, crassly colonizing indigenous lands for rapacious purposes.

Even the Rain intelligently intertwines the stories of the filmmaking with the unfolding Water Wars, tenaciously asserting the multiple ironies and hypocrisies without brashly bashing one over the head with the all-too-obvious. The characters of the filmmakers, too, undergo psychological metamorphosis as a result of what they have witnessed in Bolivia, and are humbly repentant by film's end.

Tambien La Lluvia is not only astutely acted and deftly directed, but it brings aching clarity to the perpetual abuses of peasants by profiteers. It is scorchingly indicting even of the more liberal-minded among us, but also serves as a sumptuously inventive celebration of the art of cinema. It works astoundingly well on the dual levels of political and creative statement, and is exhilaratingly affirmative to boot.

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