Radio London Films // 2005 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // November 9th, 2007
"As the rain continues to burden our souls, let me remind you that we are together in this thin realm. That's what keeps us going and that's what makes us great."
No, that wasn't an outtake from a Northern Exposure script. The philosophical DJ here is Lyle Lovett, and he's in the Land of Cleve, where everyone listens to the local jazz station as they deal with tough situations.
At least they do if they're the Clevelanders of Three Days of Rain, an ensemble drama that weaves six tales inspired by Anton Chekhov's stories into a portrait of modern-day bleakness.
With a quote like "As in CRASH...the actors make this one shine" gracing the DVD's front and a haunting picture of a troubled woman on the cover, the seriousness might scare you off before you check it out. It apparently scared off moviegoers, since Three Days of Rain took in only $2,841 at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.
As a jazz DJ (Lyle Lovett, Cookie's Fortune) spins tunes on a rainy night, Clevelanders face troubling situations, each inspired by an Anton Chekhov story:
* "The Bear": A tilemaker (Michael Santoro, Scent of a Woman) rails against the rain that damaged his tiles. The damage means that he needs more materials -- and needs money fast.
* "The Malefactor": A boss (Chuck Cooper, 100 Centre Street) wants to force a mentally handicapped janitor (Joey Bilow) out of a job to make room for a friend.
* "A Father": Tall-tale teller Waldo (Peter Falk, Columbo) is perpetually drinking and asking his son for money.
* "Misery": A cabbie (Don Meredith, Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone) rides the streets, mourning after the death of his son.
* "The Cossack": A woman refuses to share her doggie bag with a homeless man outside a restaurant -- and her husband (Erick Avari, The Mummy) is wondering what kind of woman he married.
* "Sleepy": Junkie Tess (Merle Kennedy, The Perfect Storm) gets a lift to a babysitting gig at the house of a judge, who wants her to show her gratitude with sexual favors in the car. The adopted baby is the daughter Tess lost in the courts.
You shouldn't have to read further to realize that the stories in Three Days of Rain are as gloomy as the skies. Actually, gloomier, since the rain-slicked streets of Cleveland at night actually look kind of cool in the reflected lights of the skyscrapers.
Michael Santoro's frustrated tilemaker provides a little comic relief as he deals with a rude operator and a potential car buyer who insists on letting his vintage Studebaker idle till it stalls out, but his situation is as sad -- he faces eviction -- as the others.
There's a large cast, so it's hard at first to tell who's who and what's what, but the two main stories seem to be about junkie Tess and janitor Denis. I say this because these are the two stories that had definite -- if bleak -- resolutions; the other stories seemed to peter out. Writer/director Michael Meredith had a lot of good ideas, but the end result doesn't totally gel.
The actors in both stories were superb -- Merle Kennedy really seemed strung out (I think that's a compliment in this case) and the scenes between Chuck Cooper and Joey Bilow, as with the scenes between Bilow and the various representatives of the system, make the gravity of Denis' situation come alive as he's forced to take a competency test without warning and repeatedly badgered about a railroad track part he's accused of removing. Cooper even sounds like he believes himself when he tells Denis that victims deserve to be victimized. Cooper and Bilow made their story the best of the movie.
Otherwise, Three Days of Rain has a strong cast, but their stories just kind of fester, with even marquee name Peter Falk wasted. As this happens, Lyle Lovett spins tunes and philosophical patter.
While the plots mostly lose their way, the look of Three Days of Rain is superb, as mentioned above. The jazz soundtrack's great, and the DVD does it justice. The picture appears to be 1.78:1, but the package has no information on that.
Extras? There's a trailer. That's a shame, since they could have at least put a short in about how they made the rain -- and I'm sure the Cleveland tourism board would have sprung for it just to let you know it didn't really rain for the whole shoot. But what do you expect for a movie that made less than $3,000 in its theatrical run?
If you think of Three Days of Rain as a loooong music video and forget the plot and dialogue entirely, you might like it. The jazz gets into everything like damp during a three-day rainstorm, and, unlike the deluge, it's a welcome permeation.
With an independent ensemble drama and interwoven stories, the movie either packs a punch at the end or it doesn't. For me, Three Days of Rain didn't. Still, it had good acting, and a great look and sound, enough so to get my hopes up.
Guilty of trying to do too much, thus squandering a lot of potential.
Review content copyright © 2007 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Radio London Films
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R