Castille Landon’s Fear Of Rain

Schizophrenia is a delicate subject to tackle in cinema; if you get too sensationalistic and thriller oriented you lose the honesty of the affliction, but if you get too bleak and oppressive with realism you’ll chase your audience away. I’m pleased to report that Castile Landon’s Fear Of Rain is a beautiful, haunting, truthful and compassionate portrait of the illness that incorporates a fragile character study, emotionally affecting family dynamics and an almost unbearably suspenseful thriller narrative for not only one of the most powerful films this year, but one of the most intelligent and thoughtful depictions of this unfortunate condition in cinema thus far. Madison Iseman is Rain, a teenage girl who has been struggling with schizophrenia her entire life. It affects her high school life, day to day routine and relationship with her loving parents (Katherine Heigl & Harry Connick Jr) who do everything they can to help her. She wants to get better but feels frustrated by the fact that the meds she takes dull her creative edge, as she’s an enormously talented painter. Things get impossibly complicated when she meets and makes friends with a boy (Israel Broussard) from out of town who she isn’t even sure is real and starts to suspect her neighbour/high school teacher (Eugenie Bondurant) of kidnapping and holding a little girl captive in her house. Are all these things realities of her life or densely spun facets of her own delusional mind spilling out into her outward mental state? The film could have easily gone for cheap thrills, cloying teen romance and a sanitized, glossed over depiction of schizophrenia but there’s a brutal honesty and careful balancing act between all these elements that feels genuine. Iseman is raw and potent, finding the desperate notes, the inevitable clarity and the instances where Rain skirts the dangerous line of hopelessness and losing her mind forever. Heigl and Connick Jr are excellent as the parents, finding all the right beats individually and as a unit. Director Landon seamlessly weaves the thriller aspects into the psychological themes for a story that has twists that feel earned, performances that feel human, a third act that will toss your nerves into a bundle and some visually striking, almost fairytale-like cinematography that gets downright dreamy to illustrate Rain’s kaleidoscopic mental state and draw you into her journey. Great film, and important because it goes a long way in educating and erasing stigmas around schizophrenia.

-Nate Hill

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