Look at this shower
Directed by Icíar Bollaín. Starring Luis Tosar, Gael García Bernal, Juan Carlos Aduviri Club, QFT, Belfast; Light House, Dublin, 104 min
A WEEK AFTER Paul Laverty, working with regular collaborator Ken Loach, delivered The Angels’ Share, his lightest, least didactic script to date, the writer returns with a film swilling with anger at post-colonial atrocities.
Even the Rain is a problematic project. The film occasionally takes on the tone of an agitprop piece from the 1970s: parallels are broad; the dialogue sometimes deals in slogans. But this is a cunning, beautifully made picture that constantly layers the lectures with thrilling set-pieces and convincing moral dilemmas.
Icíar Bollaín’s drama follows a film crew as they set out to make a film about Christopher Columbus’s brutal colonisation of the Americas. The producer (Luis Tosar) is delighted by the cheap labour available in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. He hires extras at a bargain rate. The film-makers initially turn away the obstreperous Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri), but eventually give in and hand him a role as the Indian chief who leads a revolt against the invaders.
It turns out to be a bad time to make a film in Bolivia. The government has just sold water rights to a multinational conglomerate and the natives are contemplating their own contemporary rebellion. Despite the high-minded, radical aims of his production, the director (Gael García Bernal) is reluctant to jeopardise the shoot by accommodating the protestors.
There is something of Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie – another film about movie-makers imposing themselves on a foreign culture – about Even the Rain, but this is an altogether less deranged, more disciplined examination of the topic. Indeed, at times the film is a little too schematic in its arguments. Somebody does actually say “water is Life”. The film-makers initial hypocrisy is so blatant, one half- wonders why they don’t explode with shame.
But Bernal and Tosar offer such commitment as the compromised artists that these concerns quickly wither away. Alex Catalán’s cinematography is messily beautiful. Alberto Iglesias offers another fine score.
The star of the show, however, is the charismatic Aduviri. His anger and intelligence as the misused Daniel burns a hole in the screen. Let’s hope he was decently paid.