By: Amir Ganjavie
The debut feature film of Aaron Fisher, Inside the Rain follows the story of a Benjamin Glass, a bipolar student, who has been temporarily suspended from his film school. Now, Benjamin plans to re-visualize the incident on video, with the help of a sex worker (Ella Toland), to clear his name. Partially inspired by the life of the director who has also written the screenplay and plays the protagonist in the film, the film underlying assumption is to create a realistic representation of bipolar disorder. And it is damn successful. It brilliantly portrays the life of Benjamin and shows why he is often misunderstood in the society. It is wincingly funny rom-com-drama, reminds one of the best of Wes Anderson and Hal Hartley movies. With the same conviction that we see in the works of both of these directors, Fisher introduces us to marginalized people in the society and how they are usually tragically excluded, and how the society misunderstand them and treat them stereotypically. We see how the protagonist is trying to show that his surrounding, his parents, his psychotherapist and the college have all failed to understand him. But Benjamin is more than his diagnoses, he prefers the term “recklessly extravagant”, and he’s determined to prove his genius. He attempts to make a short film to show the reality behind his exclusion from the school, but when he makes the film and wants to screen it at his college, he realizes that they still hold the same outdated views towards him, so he tells them that, "I don’t want to show my film anymore. You don’t see me and accept me for who I am. You see me as who you think I am.” This is not only a film to correct the views on a bipolar, it also tries to give a human face to sex workers. Emma, the main female protagonist, works as a high escort and a stripper. However, the film introduces us to her different moods and feelings, also shows us that she is the first human being around Benjamin who is capable of making huge sacrifice, and we should not ignore or forget that, simply because society doesn’t approve her job.
We can consider Inside the Rain, a coming-of-age film; a film that shows the progress of its characters, and how characters fall down but gradually reach a greater understanding of themselves. Here, both Benjamin and Emma experience love, and this love helps them reach maturity. Benjamin also reaches this maturity through art. Art purifies him. His love of making a short film makes him overcome his path's difficulties. Thus, the film highlights the social role of the film and cinema, and presents its therapeutic aspect of art.
Inside the Rain is a pleasing experience, anchored by off-kilter performances , co-stars Fisher and Toland. Fisher performed with humour, grace and sensitivity. It is the first time that Toland plays a lead role in a film but her performance is terrific as she familiarizes us with each and every moment of the life of a prostitute and her humanity. She’s a creative person, charismatic and smart with real desires and wants. The way Fisher and Toland act combined with a defined environment centred cinematography and a superb choice of music make us realize that these characters are made out of the environment in which they live. They are, in other words, social product. They have active roles, but in a bigger picture, it is the society that creates and defines them. Outstanding performances, delightful music, precise cinematography and remarkable editing all contribute to make a memorable film in tradition of a good American independent cinema.
* Inside the Rain is now available on demand.