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(Camino de los ingleses, El)

  Publicity Stills of
"Summer Rain"
(Courtesy from The Picturehouse)

Genre: Drama
Director: Antonio Banderas
Cast: Victoria Abril, Alberto Amarilla, Pepa Aniort, Raúl Arévalo, Félix Gómez
RunTime: 1 hr 58 mins
Released By: The Picturehouse
Rating: R21 (Some Sexual Content)

Opening Day: 10 July 2008


A coming-of-age tale charting the first loves, lusts and obsessions of friends on vacation at the end of the 1970s. Miguelito Dávila is 18 years old. He's just left hospital minus a kidney but in possession of "The Divine Comedy", a gift from a fellow patient that has inspired him to become a poet. Miguelito finds a muse in Luli and he falls in love with her. Over the course of the summer, Miguelito and his friends explore love, sex and friendship along the path to adulthood.

Movie Review:

Yes you've read that right. Antonio Banderas is the director, and Summer Rain is his second feature after 1999's Crazy in Alabama. Here he goes back to his roots and hometown in Malaga, Spain, and adapts Antonio Soler's novel "El camino de los ingleses" for the screen. Not having seen his directorial debut, I thought he did quite brilliantly here in conveying the mood, thoughts and feelings of a myriad of characters in the story, even though he succumbs to just a little tad of the obvious for discerning audiences to know what's coming in the last act. A little bit of subtlety might help there, but let that not rub the shine off on the good work done on the whole.

There are a number of strengths this movie possess, and chief of them all is the excellent hypnotic soundtrack scored by Antonio Meliveo and Jose Villalobos. It seizes your aural sensory and amplifies all the goodness a film score could provide in enhancing the mood of the movie. It's been a long time since I was mesmerized and enthralled by movie music, and with this one, I could close my eyes, and allow the music to fill my soul. Definitely if I am to recall or recommend a movie whose music could bring an audience through an entire movie on the strength of its tune, then this would be it.

Visually, the cinematography provided by Xavi Gimenez is another plus point. Almost every frame is beautifully conceived and shot, and embodies a dreamlike quality in the moving images. There are enough surreal scenes here from figments of imagination to provide an avenue for experimentation, with colours and with angles, and what you'd get is a mixed pattern of techniques adopted contrasted with the scenes which require some realism to be infused.

With the number of characters in the movie, you can be sure that some will be given the spotlight, while others get relegated to the background. However, here's where dwelling upon something less, actually tells a lot more. There was no need to explicitly show things as they happen, and here lies the space that you're given to interpret certain events the way they take place, and allows you to polarize your views based on personal experience. Did he or did she not cheat? Should he or should she hold onto their ideals, or give way to pragmatism? Will he or she not know the repercussions of impetuous action?

Some might be drawn to the movie in the promise of the kinky and the R21 rating, but Summer Rain transcends that, and those looking for something of a skin flick will end up disappointed. The many subplots in the story, each based on the characters, introduce us to a slice of life as it happens and paints a portrait of family and friends. The story gets anchored around the main protagonist Miguelito (Alberto Amarilla), a poet-wannabe and his muse, dancer Luli (Maria Ruiz), and then rotates around their group of friends and the trials and tribulations each face, such as Paco (Felix Gomez) and his relationship with his hot-bod girlfriend La Cuerpo (The Body, played by Marta Nieto) which runs into some conflict with the philosophy of his father on how to live his life (hence being frequently jibed by friends as having no guts, to put it mildly), and Babirusa (Raul Arevalo), who probably has the saddest story of them all with his coming to terms with his
estranged mom, and his martial arts violent streak which comes at an unimaginable price. And that's just scratching the surface!

There are some minor gripes though, but not pertaining to the quality of the movie directly. Unless you speak the language, I suspect that there might be some narration that was probably lost in translation, given that the narrator El Garganta (The Throat, played by Fran Perea) tells the story in as seductive a voice as possible, with lyrical poetry that gives off some nagging suspicion that the translated text you're reading couldn't capture half of its beauty. Also there was a point in the film which I felt could have put audiences in unwanted suspense by white subtitled text, on white background, and you can hear the shuffling of feet as attempts were made to squint, but of course to no avail.

Nonetheless Summer Rain is an extremely measured and enjoyable movie experience. It might not have big sets and big explosions as a typical movie released this summer period, but what it does have, is a big heart, in a tale uncanny of the usual coming of age stories, right up to an excellent, though melodramatic, ode of a finale.

Movie Rating:

(Summer Rain is dripping with excellent melancholy, and its beautiful visuals enhanced with a mesmerizing soundtrack, truly make this an aural and visual experience to behold)

Review by Stefan Shih


. December Boys (2007)

. Lie With Me (2007)

. Havoc (2006)

. Eternal Summer (2006)

. My Summer of Love (2006)

. Mysterious Skin (2005)

. Cold Showers (2005)

. Bad Education (2005)

. Summer Storm (2004)


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