Hong Kong / France / Ireland 2009   Directed & Written by: Tran Anh Hung Produced by: Fernando Sulichin, Jean Cazes, Jean-Pierre Marois  Cinematography by: Juan Ruiz Anchia  Editing: Mario Battistel   Music: Gustavo Santaolalla, Radiohead Cast: Josh Hartnett, Elias Koteas, Lee Byung-Hun, Takuya Kimura, Shawn Yue, Tran Nu Yen Khe, Sam Lee

Also for his latest work Tran Anh Hung sticks to his formula and delivers another exercise in style over substance filmmaking. If you know his earlier works you’ll be surprised though that I COME WITH THE RAIN features a more solid storyline, reshuffled via editing into non-linear order: ex-cop Kline (Josh Hartnett) is hired by the head of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company to find his son Shitao. Shitao was last seen somewhere in the Filipino jungle raising money for an orphanage. Once Kline arrives to investigate it turns out that Shitao obviously has been shot while asking or donations. However, soon after that someone reports him showing up in Hong Kong, and as Kline follows his trail the story gets more and more mysterious, if not delirious.

From its weird opening I COME WITH THE RAIN makes it instantly clear that this is art house terrain and we better leave the popcorn at home: I COME WITH THE RAIN can only be considered entertaining if you enjoy the bizarre and obscure and indulge in extreme violence as well as extreme vagueness. As I said before the movie features what I consider Tran Anh Hung’s probably most conventional storyline – by his standards that is. Of course the story unfolds in a non-conventional manner thanks to editing, but once the movie’s over we can put all the pieces together easily.

The problem is that even then it seems several pieces are missing, but very typically for Tran Anh Hung he intends to leave many things unspoken: the audience will have to decide how far they are willing to follow his train of thought and how capable they are to follow it in the first place. Of course we all appreciate movies that leave room for imagination and reflection, and I COME WITH THE RAIN leaves plenty of room. Some of the relationships between characters are hard to grasp though and ultimately you will have to buy the main plot point as otherwise you’ll be utterly disappointed. Also, you’ll have to accept that there is no conventional ending or satisfying explanation waiting for you. Without giving too much away it must be noted that I COME WITH THE RAIN is not what it seems to be, but beyond its serial killer crime drama surface it essentially is a film about pain and healing, about belief and religion, about the scars life leaves on all of us.

I reckon that style still dominates substance in I COME WITH THE RAIN – it’s another visual delicacy from the master. The movie is very watchable for its aesthetics alone, with carefully selected frames, strong colors, sensual lighting and enthralling moments of love and death. On the other hand some scenes are so over the top that acting becomes overacting and instead of holding our breaths we begin to laugh out loud. It happened to me a few times throughout the film that I couldn’t take it seriously anymore. That doesn’t mean that the movie fails, but it’s a rocky road at times and you’ll have to turn a blind eye here and there.

I find it hard to make up my mind about I COME WITH THE RAIN. How can I complain about its gorgeous visuals, original story and great cast (by the way, Josh Hartnett is the better Collin Farrell) in view of so much lackluster productions coming to cinemas every year? How can I complain about Tran Anh Hung taking things to the limit and beyond in view of movies becoming more and more indistinguishable? On the other hand I COME WITH THE RAIN doesn’t really go anywhere and the essential points of the storyline elicit no more than a “so what”? There’s no conclusion in it for us, nothing much to learn, nothing that changes our perspective of things.

Having said that maybe it is true that beauty is only skin-deep after all. I COME WITH THE RAIN is a film by Tran Anh Hung for Tran Anh Hung. I don’t see that it has been created with an audience in mind. So I COME WITH THE RAIN is true art: highly imaginative, symbolic, perfectly crafted and utmost exciting, minus a purpose.


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2 Responses to “I COME WITH THE RAIN”

  1. PinkShores Says:

    Thanks so much for your review J. It is the best one I have read so far to describe my intimate feelings about this fascinating film.

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