I saw Rain for the first time this weekend, the film written and directed by Maria Govan, my good friend and a filmmaker the world will be taking note of. The acclaim for her first feature film about a girl struggling to survive in a Nassau slum has already begun. Rain was an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival, received the Audience Award at The Bahamas International Film Festival, the Best Teen Movie Award at the Women’s International Film Festival in Seol, Korea, and Govan won the Best New Director/First Film at the Pan African Film Festival. HBO showed the film this summer, much to the delight of her local fanbase and is now available on DVD.
Truly, this movie and Maria Govan deserve the praise, because this film is good on so many levels. It tells the story of Rain, a teenaged girl who comes to Nassau in search of her mother, only to find her living in poverty, struggling with HIV and crack addiction. Renel Naomi Brown is Rain, and she is a very talented young actor indeed. Miss Brown IS Rain, and I was rooting for her, weeping with her, traveling resolutely with her as she makes a way out of no way, with the help of good friends and a big dream. Surely there is an acting award out there that Ms. Brown deserves to win.
Another great performance is given by Irma P Hall who plays Glory, Rain’s down and out mother who does her best to look after Rain though street-ravaged and nearing collapse. Ms Hall’s Glory was to me far more than a crack addicted prostitute, If the scene where she gives birth to Rain in the pitch black of a midnight storm on the out island doesn’t evoke sympathy and empathy in your heart for Glory, then you are probably watching the wrong movie and should go and rent, like, a war movie instead. My heart went out to Glory and to all the island women who are her real life counterparts in The Bahamas certainly, and probably all across the Caribbean, the invisible ones, the ones without a voice, and without a chance, making it the best way they can. I cheered too when Glory defends Rain against the rapist with a broken bottle, and l love the scene where she pulls herself together enough to tenderly comb and braid Rain’s hair. Rain’s relationship with the kind and tough track coach, well played by CCH Pounder (The Shield) is the focal relationship for Rain in the film, but it is her relationship with her mother that fascinated me the most.
Nicki Micheaux rounds out the starring cast. The scene where Micheaux rolls a joint in a Bible page is priceless!
Although some have billed this a “teen” movie, there are some very adult themes being dealt with in this flick, poverty, addiction, homophobia, racism, outside children, oppressed mothers, absent fathers, violent men, hateful fundamentalist religion and the hateful people it produces, heavy stuff and lots of it, jam-packed into thirty short minutes. It is an emotional portrayal of the other side of island life from a young girl’s point of view, without ever being sentimental. There are no stereotypes among these characters, no scene that is gratuitous, no dialogue that is hackneyed. Its beauty is raw and unapologetic, the truths told about the island woman’s life in Rain need to be told.
I really love this movie! I can’t wait to see the next film by Bahamian Maria Govan!