Three Days of Rain

Reviewed By The Ultimate Dancing Machine
Posted 04/23/03 10:10:47

"Fabulous character study"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

You might say that the organizers of this year's Method Fest put their money where their mouth is with their opening night presentation, THREE DAYS OF RAIN. How apt that a film festival dedicated to actors would come out of the gates with a film that, from first to last, is an actors' showcase; this movie has enough small yet memorable performances to make Robert Altman's head spin.

Based on six stories by Anton Chekhov, the film takes place over a rainy three-day period in Cleveland. In one tale, a husband and his wife are approached by a homeless man looking for a handout. The husband sees nothing wrong with the request, but his wife, disgusted by the filthy stranger, refuses to let him help the man. This seemingly insignificant incident soon opens hidden cracks in their marriage: the husband realizes how little he has in common with his wife.

In another, a poor tilemaker, facing imminent eviction, tries to collect a debt from the widow of a man who never paid for services rendered. He barges into her apartment, refusing to leave until he gets his money--but the woman can't see why he needs the dough now. It's a stalemate--until these two very different people realize how much they have in common.

Director Michael Meredith has successfully transmuted to the screen Chekhov's most essential quality--his unobtrusive, lifelike artistry. Chekhov gains his effects effortlessly; his tales seem like true slices of life. Meredith does much the same in THREE DAYS OF RAIN by never showing his hand--not one of these six tales is predictable; they unspool in a leisurely, unforced manner, and you rarely feel that he's reaching for effect. On occasion, he falls victim to amateur-night theatrics--for example, we know the tilemaker is divorced because he's seen holding his wife's picture and exclaiming "God, I miss you!" That's an on-the-nose moment, to put it gently. In general, though, he stays true to Chekhov's vision.

There are good performances aplenty. To mention one, Peter Falk shines--if that's the word--as a charming but rather hopeless drunk. The colorful cast includes Robert Carradine and underground film legend George Kuchar; Lyle Lovett appears as the DJ whose on-air commentary is heard throughout the film.

It's a quiet, subtle, memorable film, and I sincerely hope that it finds its audience.

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