10 August 2012

EVEN THE RAIN (Dir. Iciar Bollain, 2010, Spain/Mexico/France) - Exploiters

The exploited meets the exploiter?
Even The Rain is easily one of the best films I have seen this year. It is a film that merges two concepts: politics and cinema into a very powerful narrative about oppression, history, privatisation and most directly class struggle. Written by Paul Laverty, a regular Ken Loach collaborator of social realist cinema, and directed by Spaniard Iciar Bollain, Even The Rain sees a Spanish film crew arrive in Bolivia to shoot a revisionist historical film about Columbus and his experiences with the indigenous people of the Americas. The crew is led by director Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal) and producer Costa (Luis Tosar) who have a vision of making an epic on an inexpensive budget in a country where labour is cheap. As they film, external political events begin to take over the shooting schedule and soon film making is interrupted by protests over the state's control of water and multinational privatisation. The protest inevitably turns to a violent struggle and a state of emergency is declared, bringing an end to Sebastian's dream of completing the film. The protest is led by Daniel, who has been cast in the film as leader of the Indians. Daniel's involvement in the war over water jeopardises the shoot and endangers his life but it also brings to light the middle class unconcern's of the film crew especially Costa. Costa is a producer who only cares for the film project yet he is the one who seems to change the most. Initially Costa is humiliated by Daniel for his indifference to the plight of the Bolivian indigenous underclass and their struggle for the most elemental of human rights. Costa does come to the aid of Daniel at the end and while this is a literally eye opening experience, a wider point is made about the expiation of middle class guilt. One of the strongest elements of the film is the dramatic parallel between the past and present forms of class exploitation. It is a parallel underlining a continuity in terms of hegemonic oppression. By keeping political details of the Bolivian water war in the background, the film avoids falling into the trap of overly politicising such an important social issue. Additionally, many of the characters especially Daniel are humanised so that their voice feels authentic and credible. The final meeting between Costa and Daniel is undoubtedly the most sentimental. Such emotional expressiveness seems necessary given the way class as a barrier becomes invisible, uniting two very different people against one common enemy: corporate multinational greed. As Costa leaves Bolivia never to return, he opens the gift given to him by Daniel for saving his daughter's life. It is a bottle of water. Although no one can truly claim to own water, many have and yet we forget that water belongs to us all but is denied to many. It is a point made with startling political clarity as is the rest of this great film.   

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to see this movie so BADLY, but wasn't in town when it came to our cinema! Thanks for reminding me of it and sharing your thoughts.