The Movie Waffler Tribeca Film Festival 2024 Review - SOME RAIN MUST FALL | The Movie Waffler

Tribeca Film Festival 2024 Review - SOME RAIN MUST FALL

Some Rain Must Fall review
A housewife's misery is compounded when she accidentally injures an elderly woman.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Qiu Yang

Starring: Yu Aier, Di Shike, Wei Yibo, Xu Tianyi, Gu Tingxiu, Qin Dan, Xu Yun

"Into each life, some rain must fall
Too much is falling in mine
Into each heart, some tears must fall
Someday the sun will shine."

So sang Ella Fitzgerald and The Ink Spots on their 1944 hit 'Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall'.

A whole lot of rain falls on Cai (Yu Aier), the put-upon protagonist of writer/director Qiu Yang's feature debut Some Rain Must Fall, but there's no suggestion that the sun is set to shine any time soon. Yang shot his movie during a glum Chinese winter with darkness descending before kids have finished their school day, and the overcast skies that line the top third of many of his shots hover over what is an exercise in unrelenting miserabilism.

Some Rain Must Fall review

When grey skies aren't literally looming over Cai, metaphorical clouds certainly are. The film's narrative plays out over the course of a particularly awful week for this fortysomething middle class housewife. It all kicks off when Cai attends her teenage daughter Lin's (Di Shike) basketball practice and accidentally knocks out an elderly woman when she aggressively lobs a ball back at some kids. The woman is hospitalised and it's uncertain if she'll recover. The accidental victim's working class family - referred to as "fucking peasants" by Cai's husband Ding (Wei Yibo) - immediately begin a campaign of harassment in the hopes of pressuring Cai into financial compensation.

It's the last thing Cai needs on her plate right now. She's just filed divorce papers. Her daughter is striking out at her by threatening to drop out of the basketball team, thus jeopardising the essential extra credits she needs for a college place. She's left at home each day with her increasingly senile mother-in-law. Her own elderly father is terminally ill and his home helper wants to leave the role of his nursemaid. The only moments of tenderness come from Cai's housekeeper, whose physical intimacy suggests a longing Cai is unwilling to allow herself to indulge.

Some Rain Must Fall review

Yang, who scooped the top prize at Cannes a few years back with one of his acclaimed shorts, seems to draw inspiration from a particularly European school of misery for his first feature. With its unrelenting bleakness, Some Rain Must Fall bears the influence of the likes of Von Trier, Haneke and Seidl, filmmakers who are often reductively accused of simply torturing their (usually female) protagonists like cruel children burning ants with a magnifying glass. Such a read is to ignore the emotional and psychological insight of their films, though it's understandable why many viewers might wish to shun such uneasy material. With Yang's debut however it's difficult to mine anything more profound than a nihilistic "shit happens" philosophy. Yang may shoot his film in a detached arthouse style but he piles so much baggage on the shoulders of his protagonist that the film becomes an overbearing melodrama nonetheless. Just when you think he can't shoehorn any more angst into his drama, Yang will have Cai recite a depressing monologue about some terrible tragedy that occurred in her past. At a certain point there's so much wretchedness to keep track of that you simply stop caring and the film loses whatever impact its initial setup might have offered.

Some Rain Must Fall review

A significant portion of the audience will likely bail on Yang's film before it reaches its conclusion, but there are some rewards here for those willing to indulge Some Rain Must Fall. Yang composes his shots in a manner that reflects his protagonist's emotional deadness, often obscuring her face with door frames or angling his camera in a way that forces us to focus on the coldness of her cheekbones rather than the expressiveness of her eyes. The movie's highlight is a wonderfully expressionist tracking shot that follows Cai as she walks past the school basketball court, the fading lights of which signal her own impending invisibility. Touches like this get across Yang's point regarding how many women begin to fade into the shadows when they reach middle age. It's a valid statement, but one that's made in a way most viewers will consider punishing rather than enlightening.

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