I was trolling through the ‘watch instantly’ selections on Netflix the other night, and started watching “One Day Like Rain” (official site), and made it past half way before giving up. This isn’t Plan 9 From Outer Space bad, it’s in its own category of bad. It has characters, sort of. Well it has actors repeating lines anyway, but at no point does anything about this movie make any sense. Where Ed Wood was aiming at a popular entertainment, and missed horribly and hilariously, “One Day Like Rain” isn’t even in the same building with any sort of coherent goal, or message, or plot.
Case in point. The protagonist is this high school age girl, who apparently dislikes the sterility of suburban life. So she gets involved in this project to… do something? Who knows! How does she go about it? She goes to a hobby shop and buys 4 chemistry sets. On the way home she starts ranting about how stupid and cheap the chemistry sets are, takes one out of her bag, and stomps it on the sidewalk. When she gets home she pulls out a few chemical vials and throws the boxes away, still complaining about the chemistry sets!
Then, as the movie progresses, she does … things? … in the garage that have something to do with a blood sample from the hobby shop clerk, but it soon has nothing to do with the blood, or the guy, and evolves into her fiddling with crystals and crumpled lengths of copper wire.
Along the way several things happen:
- Her brother(?) is road racing with some other guy. He misses a turn, and knocks over a fire hydrant.
- some guy, not sure who, visits a campsite where random people sit around, in some sort of gobsmacked trance, and he plays the guitar for them.
- the protagonist’s friend, takes some sort of drug the protagonist has brewed up, and the posters on her walls become animated.
- Every so often someone in the movie looks really stoned and droning faux-East Indian music plays for a few minutes.
But … there’s no payoff! Nothing is ever made clear! The characters never converse or interact, they say obscure non-sequitirs past one another. The most prominent actor in this movie Jesse Eisenberg (lead in Adventureland) enters every scene with a quizzical expression on his face like he’s wandered onto the wrong movie set, to deliver lines from some other movie.
This movie has all the markings of being made by someone afflicted with the twin towers of bad art: a complete lack of talent, and perfect imperviousness to outside criticism. This is a surprisingly common template — in the past couple of years I’ve been sent review copies of two novels with the same atmosphere of pure WTF-ness and lack of comprehensible meaning. My mom worked for a guy who was writing ‘musicals’ with awful lyrics set to awful music, in service of a plot that made no sense populated by characters with no trace of normal human motivation. That guy’s arrogance was titanic, and so was the craptastic-ness of his ideas.
It’s a commonplace that a genius knows what to do, and knows not to pay attention to anyone who says otherwise. Unfortunately there’s a certain kind of anti-genius, who thinks they can prove their genius doing the same thing. Only they have no talent except for ignoring useful criticism. “One Day Like Rain” looks to be the product of just such a misguided auteur.