Inside the Rain
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Stars: Aaron Fisher, Rosie Perez, Eric Roberts, Ellen Toland, Catherine Curtin, Paul Schulze
Writer/Director: Aaron Fisher
Streaming on Various Online Services
Confessional filmmaking can occasionally result in compelling art — witness last year’s Honeyboy, writer/director/costar Shia LaBeouf’s searing fictionalized account of his hellacious Hollywood childhood.
More often, such films seem to have been made as much for the filmmaker as for an actual audience, and that’s the case with Aaron Fisher’s Inside the Rain, a ripped-from-the-gut story about a young man named Ben (played by Fisher) trying to negotiate the world while dealing with a mind-bending emotional cocktail of ADHD, OCD, borderline personality disorder, and bipolarism.
The inescapable subtext here is that Fisher, who besides playing Ben also writes and directs the film, suffers from all those conditions in real life.
Given that pedigree, Inside the Rain can’t help but be a brave piece of filmmaking. But you might not expect it to be as funny as it is. And above all, you may well be caught off-guard by its frequent moments of visual beauty.
When we first meet Ben he’s being dropped off at college — the latest in an apparent string of attempted stabs at higher education. His parents (Paul Schulze and Catherine Curtin) offer an oddly tentative farewell, as if they assume they will see him again long before Thanksgiving break.
They are, of course, correct. A misunderstanding born of Ben’s raging emotional issues leads to his temporary expulsion — a condition that will become permanent following a committee hearing several weeks hence.
Realizing he’ll never be able to talk his way out of his fix, Ben, a film student, decides to make a movie to show at the meeting — a short film that will re-create the events that led up to his unjustified expulsion.
All he needs is a costar, a producer, and $5,500 for production costs — the quest for which leads him to a comely stripper with a heart of gold (Ellen Toland) and a washed-up producer (Eric Roberts, who, since first appearing on Another World in 1964, has been in an astonishing 570 movies and TV shows).
All the time, Ben keeps checking back in with his patient, tough love-dispensing shrink, played with relentless exuberance by Rosie Perez.
Inside The Rain shows all the rough seams that afflict lots of first-time feature directors. Fisher — who directed nine episodes of his YouTube series Single and Baller — could have used someone looking over his shoulder with advice on what extraneous narrative strings to snip, and a veteran director may have drawn from him a more nuanced performance.
Then again, Inside the Rain is as personal as filmmaking gets. In the end, Ben has second thoughts about whether or not he wants to show his film to the college committee at all. At that moment we realize that we, too, may be little more than voyeurs, immersed in a movie that includes us almost as an afterthought.
Featured image: Aaron Fisher in Inside the Rain (Act 13 Films)
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