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Qiu Yang Some Rain Must Fall Review

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Some Rain Must Fall | 2024 Berlin Intl. Film Festival Review

Some Rain Must Fall | 2024 Berlin Intl. Film Festival Review

Mistress of Misery: Yang Explores the Turmoil of Transformation

Here comes the rain again, falling on her head like a tragedy. Or so is the somewhat gloomy sentiment of Qiu Yang’s debut Some Rain Must Fall, which finds Cai, 45-year-old housewife being raked over the coals when a perfect storm of past and present events coincide over a hellish few days. While a dramatic, unintentionally violent moment triggers a cascade of deepening miseries, the actual dramatic catalyst has been long coming, longer actually than the current discord with her husband. Each of them having a somewhat fractured relationship with their teenage daughter, and contending with both their elderly parents, the film is a condensed laundry list of intergenerational domestic strife, but led quite exceptionally by Yu Aier, whose troubled countenance gives way to cathartic fury and eventual reclamation of her dogged durability.

Attending one of her daughter’s basketball matches, Cai (Aier) dangerously injures an older woman. The incident was accidental, but the woman ends up in the hospital, her family demanding compensation and resorting to violence themselves. This event is one of many unseemly details which Cai is currently navigating. Her live-in mother in law, who can’t stand the maid, seems to be suffering from dementia. Her daughter Lin (Di Shike) has decided to drop out of basketball, angering the school, who try using the injured woman as a way to pressure Cai to make her reconsider. Meanwhile, Cai’s father appears to be on the verge of dying, his nurse asking to quit to tend to her own family. Unfortunately, Cai doesn’t seem to have much of an emotional connection to her parents. Oh, and she’s recently filed for divorce.

Qiu Yang Some Rain Must Fall Review

By the time we come to the end of Some Rain Must Fall, the most wearying reality is realizing it’s only been several days, each compounded with its own set of heartaches. This is perhaps not surprising for Yang’s feature debut, considering his accomplishments in a variety of short features, including his 2017 Palme d’Or winner A Gentle Night, in which a mother searches for her missing daughter.

The opening altercation, in which Cai injures an unseen older woman with a basketball, which also happens offscreen, is essentially the least of her worries. Though she was aggressively acting out in the heat of the moment, the sentiments behind the action bite back with karmic viciousness. If daughter Lin is merely an angsty teenager, whose own attitudes have been shaped by her unhappy parents, and Ding (Wei Yibo) is a bored husband who stopped caring for his wife long ago, then what’s really the matter with Cai? Yang provides the answer in layers, first as a monologue from mother to daughter regarding the tragedy of Cai’s sister, who became pregnant as a teenager. Eventually, it’s revealed as only a partial truth to something much more personable and ultimately resonant regarding the life Cai’s been forced to lead—-something she never really wanted in the first place.

Yang’s debut sorta plays like the Lars Von Trier version of Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022), where an unhappy wife mourns the lives she could have had while being cosmically castigated for her attempts to do something about it. Reuniting with DP Constanze Schmitt, Yang captures Cai in a dark, dreary world, and we’re constantly peering at her furtively from around corners, as if gazing directly into her abyss means she’ll gaze right back into ours. Aier makes her debut as Cai, and she’s a captivating, painstaking presence. It’s also a film of contemporary familial Chinese strife which feels inordinately authentic in the presentations of its unhappiness, not unlike a similar title detailing middle class woes related to the past in Lin Jianjie’s Brief History of a Family (2024). Yang’s culmination ends quite effectively, and of all places, at the dentist’s office, regarding the extraction of a rotten tooth. “The damage is deep. It’s going to be sore.”

Reviewed on February 19th at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival – Encounters section. 98 mins.

★★★½/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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