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By Merle Bertrand | January 13, 2002

Katherine Lindberg’s “Rain” starts off in high-flown indie-artsy territory and ends up thrashing in the gutter of trash melodrama. If Douglas Sirk had been around to direct a midwestern “In the Bedroom” – only with more killin’, screwin’, barn burnin’ and even incest thrown in – he might have turned out something like this. It may be whole new genre, in fact: the Art Soap.
Melora Walters (the neurotically sexy, squeaky-voiced coke fiend from Magnolia) plays unhinged Ellen Biddle, who is introduced in her kitchen, about to blast her unfaithful husband Paul (Tahmus Rounds) with a rifle. Paul’s fling was with Patsy (Jo Anderson), wife of town sheriff Tom Gibson (Jamey Sheridan). Once bad boy Paul has been wrapped up and packed in the trunk, Ellen finds an accomplice in her own little fling, prettyboy teen druggie Richard (Kris Park) – who happens to be Sheriff Tom’s son. But Sheriff Tom, needless to say, has a secret or two of his own.
It only gets stickier from there. “Rain” is brilliantly shot by Vanja Cernjul (“Ed Gein”) and eloquently scored by Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream), but the stilted dialogue is loaded with clunkers that the fine cast can’t manage to shake off. The filmmakers, while technically skilled, seem studiously unaware of how trashy it all becomes the more sordid revelations they spring on us. The final act is a pileup of overcooked dramatics, absurd coincidences and portentous train shots (actually, “Train” would have been a more apropos title). “Rain” takes itself way too seriously to realize what a funky, kinky trash-o-rama it is; if the filmmakers knew the meaning of the word fun, there might be more of it here. But it’s still a good time trying to guess how wacky the story will get, how far it’s going to sail off the rails. Trust me: it goes all the way.

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