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Some Rain Must Fall Film Review: Patient Drama

A woman talks to someone with some bottles on the table next to them in the film Some Rain Must Fall

With Some Rain Must Fail, Qiu Yang composes some striking imagery and character details, but the pieces don’t add up to a satisfying whole.

Director: Qiu Yang
Genre: Drama
Run Time: 98′
Tribeca Premiere: June 6, 2024

When watching writer and director Qiu Yang’s naturalistic melodrama Some Rain Must Fall, I was reminded of Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” (perhaps because I’m in the middle of re-reading it), and how there are always at least two sides to every story.

The film’s inciting incident – Cai (Aier Yu) throws a basketball out of frustration and seriously injures an elderly woman – occurs fairly early, and rather than stick with the victim, Qiu stays with the perpetrator to explore her fraying psyche. Surely another film could be made from the elderly woman’s perspective and feature just as much drama, as with Wicked and The Wizard of Oz, or the epic poem of “Beowulf” and John Gardner’s “Grendel.”

After Cai’s outburst, Qiu shows us a domestic life in shambles. Her husband Ding (Yibo Wei) wants a divorce. Her daughter Lin (Shike Di) wants off the basketball team, and gets in trouble at school. She occasionally looks after the elderly woman’s grandson, who shares a class with Lin. This may not sound like much, but Qiu draws out the drama to allow Cai, and the audience, to take in all the information, and their implications. Some Rain Must Fall moves slowly, sometimes a little too slowly, but it’s a complex character study of a woman whose life has always been full of complexities. 

Strangely, the aforementioned incident with the elderly woman doesn’t have much of a bearing on the film proper after the first act, and by the time the movie ends, we’re left wondering why it was included at all. It is admirable that Qiu doles out information slowly without forcing it to the forefront, but I don’t know if all of the pieces add up to a satisfying whole. The final act reveals more information about Cai’s strained relationship to her own parents, and while it’s well written and compelling, I found myself almost wishing the entire film had revolved around this drama. I worry that, despite the relatively truncated runtime of 98 minutes, general audiences will be checked out by the film’s pacing by the time this development rolls around.

Some Rain Must Fall: Trailer (2024 Tribeca Film Festival)

Attention must be paid to Qiu’s careful framing of Some Rain Must Fall. Filmed in a nearly box-like Academy aspect ratio by cinematographer Constanze Schmitt, a good deal of the drama happens either off-screen or at a distance, or is obscured by something within the frame. This allows for a more observational experience, not unlike the films of master filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu, as if we’re simply witnessing real events unfolding. Qiu’s confidence, in his feature directorial debut, is an encouraging sign for what could be a promising career.

Some Rain Must Fall may not go down as the best debut film of the year, but Qiu is undoubtedly a voice to keep track of. The film is the first and only credit of nearly all of its actors, so for him to mine such empathetic performances from so many newcomers is surely a testament to his working style. It’s never easy for a writer to create a fictional world that feels so lived-in, but that’s precisely what Qiu has done with the film. Character motivations feel mostly genuine, not forced for the sake of adding drama. If Qiu can compose a more compelling narrative around his distinct style in future films, he’s sure to garner more attention from the larger moviegoing public.

Some Rain Must Fall premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 6, 2024. Read our list of 15 films to watch at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival!

Interview: Qiu Yang on Some Rain Must Fall – Loud And Clear Reviews
Along with the premiere of Some Rain Must Fall at the Tribeca Film Festival, we interview writer-director Qiu Yang about his feature debut.
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