Rain was born during a storm; the grandmother who raised her dies during a storm. The weather in the Bahamas is as uncertain and violent as its economy and the rain itself, a life-savor for most, can easily destroy the poorest dwellings.
Rain is reminiscent of Black Shack Alley by Martinique filmmaker Euzhan Palcy (1983), with the children playing, the parents working, and the elders telling wise stories. Both films reveal a reality that is harsh, but also human and poetic.
Against her grandmother’s repeated advice, Rain is set on joining her mother who moved to Nassau when she was born. She is living in a neighborhood called « the Graveyard ». There, Rain is struck by a squalor she never witnessed on Ragged Island, and discovers the ravages of drugs and AIDS. Her newfound friend Magdeline, who wants to run for Miss Bahamas, explains why the Graveyard is called that way : once you are in, you never come out. What keeps her mother there is not so much poverty as drug addiction. When she desperately needs fifty dollars to register Rain in school, fifty dollars she had three months to save, the local dealer refuses to help, saying she spends that much every day without thinking twice. Surely Gloria can find a way to make fifty dollars in one night.
Director Maria Govan manages to avoid many pitfalls, including undue lamenting over how sordid life can be. Extreme poverty is never presented as a fatality that only NGOs might oppose, but rather as a series of negative circumstances to be overcome through determination and dignity. None of the characters are reduced to stereotypes. The young dealer, who refuses to help Gloria, comes to Rain’s rescue when attacked by Preacher, a sick old man who is a far cry from the wise, life-lesson giving elder. Situations rarely correspond to what they seem. For instance, Magdeline’s generosity towards Rain is financed by the blackmailing of her white father in exchange for her discretion.
The main plot revolves around the hope that Rain will be selected to represent the Bahamas in track and field. She must train relentlessly of course, deal with mean tricks from jealous teammates, and most importantly find proper shoes, which she cannot possibly buy. She is supported by Ms. Adams, her tough yet kind P.E. teacher and coach, whose personal life also turns out to be somewhat painful: being a lesbian is generally frowned upon, including by her father who has rejected her. Along with self-confidence and determination, Ms. Adams teaches Rain acceptance. But like the other traps that are carefully avoided, the lecture is rather light-handed. In the same way, the hope of seeing Rain win never climaxes into an athletic grand finale. Maybe Maria Govan really prefers a drizzle to heavy rain.
Rain came out in the Bahamas. It was selected in many festivals and received the Best New Director/First Film award at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival in Los Angeles and the « Graines de cinéphage » prize (awarded by the young audience) at the International Women’s Film Festival in Créteil.
///Article N° : 8581