Let’s Talk About the Rain (2008)
**** out of 5
Agnès Jaoui is one of a number of talented and socially conscious female filmmakers emerging across Europe. Here, her third feature, Let’s Talk About the Rain is in a similar mold to other well-received relationship/family dramas such as Mia-Hansen Løve’s Father of My Children and the charming ensemble piece Paris. Jaoui herself plays Agathe, a feminism author looking to turn her hand to politics, and who subsequently becomes the subject of a haphazard amateur documentary about ‘successful women’ – being compiled by the rather hapless Michel and his ambitious, aggressive student Karim.
Like Paris (which stars French heavyweights Roman Duris and Juliette Binoche), Jaoui’s film interlocks the lives of what at first appears to be a disparate group of Parisians; delicately weaving their separate stories seamlessly into one silkily smooth narrative. The scope widens to incorporate, Mimouna – Karim’s mother and maid to Agathe’s fragile and delicate sister Florence; a women trapped and patronized in a suffocating marriage. During the 10 day documentary shoot at Florence’s secluded country house, the metaphorical rain of the tile comes in a downpour of released emotions and hidden feelings as relationships emerge, evolve, escalate and end. The film provides a snapshot of the lives of these people; it sets its time-frame and crucially doesn’t try to unrealistically resolve every facet of the complex and intricate bonds on show, or worse still, tack on a ‘happy ever after ending’.
Whereas Father of My Children has an understandably somewhat more serious tone, Rain does have a light shower of quirky and offbeat laughs – including a despairing Michel declaring ‘I have no authority over sheep’, as a noisy herd threatens to ruin an on location interview. Thus Let’s Talk About the Rain is a sophisticated and engaging comedy-drama, one that enhances Jaoui’s growing reputation and marks her as one to look out for. And although Agathe, Karim and co. talk about the rain as the sky appears to clear, the literal downpour in the closing scene suggests that not all has been resolved, and that perhaps the forecast may remain wet for a while yet.