The Rain People

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 28, 2015

We’ve got a director here! When it comes to this period we probably talk too much about the usual Easy Riding suspects. Scratch the surface, or delve beneath it, and you see how very exciting and world changing these times were. Cinematically, generally. Exciting, and dangerous too—these texts are to be studied, and they’re worthy of celebration. But some caution is in order as well. Anyway, The Rain People is patently, palbably experimental, and there’s plenty of vinegar—youthful self-regard and even self-exhibition—in that experimentation. But the experimental is also in the service of a vision, a medium, a world that demands to be looked at differently. Coppola has found the right story, and, triumphantly, the right way to tell it.

This plot is digressive/picaresque. The film entire comes across as being quite strikingly gender progressive, without ever straining at it, or ceasing to breathe. (You do ask: does everything have to end in violence? Maybe in 1969 that represented a responsible acknowledgment of the other, darker side of all this vaunted social/sexual experimentation. Actually, maybe this is Easy Rider!) It’s terrifically adventurous, but it’s also really accessible. Symbols (Knight—amazing—and her flight, Caan’s trauma, each morality play stop along the way) really succeed, but the photographic and dramatic particularity ensure that the film is also rooted in the human. Why don’t we talk more about this movie? The unusual suspects are so frequently so rewarding that we should almost start ignoring the Oscars and the AFI.