Using strong parallel story lines, “Even the Rain” takes a hard look at the operation of the modern film industry and the battles of a developing city.
This Spanish-language film follows fictional director Sebastián (Gael García Bernal) and his crew, with producer Costa (Luis Tosar), who are shooting a controversial film in Bolivia about Christopher Columbus. Meanwhile, the native people, including the star of Sebastián’s movie, revolt against their government’s plans to privatize the water supply, putting his film in jeopardy.
Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) is superbly cast in the role of Hatuey, the first Indian crucified for his resistance of the Spanish and Christian empire in Sebastián’s film. In the film’s most compelling parallel, Daniel is also the leader of the water rebellion. The stories of the real-life modern revolt, coupled with the imperialist past, interweave beautifully. Aduviri’s acting is also subtle and powerful.
Filmed in a luscious natural setting, the film takes on a documentary-style look, occasionally showing riot footage from the actual 2000 water revolts, and sometimes through the lens of the crew’s cameras. The urban scenes in the city, especially the street conflicts, have raw power.
Tosar gives a fantastic performance as he slowly becomes the hero of the film, evolving from a producer only concerned about saving costs to one of the only characters who can put the local water struggle above their attempt to finish the film.
The dire water situation adds potency to the script’s already dramatic situations while also underlining how the self-righteous film crew is ignorant of its own exploitation. The extras can be hired cheaper than anywhere else, yet the filmmakers acknowledge the people could never pay more for water because they are so poor.
The historical film-within-a-film sequences are also nicely produced. It’s almost like watching two movies in one, until the camera pans back, and the audience remembers Sebastián and Costa are there behind the lens.
The breathtaking movie critiques its own industry, calling itself into question. Considering the ambition of the film and the multiple narratives it ties together, “Even the Rain” succeeds as a powerful commentary but also as a testament to the endurance of the human spirit.
“Even the Rain” was written by Paul Laverty and directed by Icíar Bollaín.
4 out of 4 stars