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Wet Blogathon: I Wish It Would Rain Down…

This is part of the rather wonderful “Wet Blogathon” put together by Andrew over at Encore’s World of Film and Television, asking bloggers to pick their favourite scenes in the rain. It’s a great little idead and I was delighted to be invited to take part.

Though your hurt is gone, mine’s hanging on, inside
And I know, it’s eating me through every night and day
I’m just waiting on your sign –

‘Cos I know, I know, I never meant to cause you no pain
And I realize I let you down
But I know in my heart of hearts
I know I’m never gonna hold you again

Now I… Now I know, I wish it would rain down, down on me
Ohh I wish it would rain, rain down on me now
Ohh I wish it would rain down, down on me
Yes I wish it would rain down, rain down over me.

– Phil Collins, I Wish It Would Rain Down

Yes, I was quite fond of that in my young almost-emo teen-in-love days – you know the kind, when one little attraction meant the entire world. I’ve kinda gotten over it. Still, there is something inherently powerful about the imagery of rain – water pouring down from the skies. It can represent – as it does in that infamous scene from The Shawshank Redemption – a divine shower, washing the character clean of their sins, evoking imagery of baptism and rebirth. Or it can be heavenly tears – as in Se7en, for example – reflecting the tragedy of a broken world where all you can do is cry. The always wonderful Andrew over at Encore’s World of Film and Television invited me to contribute to a blogathon he’s hosting celebrating the most powerful rain imagery in film – and there’s quite a bit to choose from. There are a rake of moody and gothic applications of rain – a wide variety and more than a few outside choices to be made. However, I am going to betray my inherent sappiness by picking Chasing Amy, which offered an inherently straight-forward and almost cliché application of the heavy rain as a metaphor for turbulant emotion, but did it with such heart that even cynical old me could not resist.

The raining champion...

For those unfamiliar with the film, it’s the third film in Kevin Smith’s “View Askew trilogy” (of six films). It’s also the most inherently personal of his films and the one that perhaps works best outside the context of the series – in fact, Smith’s stalwart supporting characters Jay and Silent Bob are relegated to a single scene, one which gives Bob (played by the writer and director, Smith) his most eloquent and sophisticated monologue of the entire series as he outlines his own thoughts on love and relationships. Indeed, the script was apparently based on Smith’s own romantic experiences, which provides it with a depth and self-effacing honesty you rarely see in a romantic comedy. Because, well, the male lead doesn’t exactly come across particularly well (nor is meant to).

Anyway, enough set-up – to the scene itself! The plot of the movie sees comic book artist Holden McNeill fall in love with Alyssa Jones, a lesbian (though she is, in fact, bi-sexual). Anyway, despite his initial attraction to her, he pursues a friendship with her – the two of them quickly become quite close, platonicly. However, when Alyssa buys Holden a painting off the wall of a fancy restaurant, he decides he can’t do it. On the way home, in the car, he confesses his feelings to her – pulling over. And, you guessed it, it’s raining.

It’s a wonderfully moment, made even better by the fact that lead actor Ben Affleck is on top of his game here (in fact, it was this film which led me to believe that he would outshine his writing collaborator Matt Damon – but I’ll accept I was wrong on that call). Holden simply lets it all pour out, in a monologue that is definitely “very Smith”, for lack of a better adjective:

I love you. And not, not in a friendly way, although I think we’re great friends. And not in a misplaced affection, puppy-dog way, although I’m sure that’s what you’ll call it. I love you. Very, very simple, very truly. You are the-the epitome of everything I have ever looked for in another human being. And I know that you think of me as just a friend, and crossing that line is-is-is the furthest thing from an option you would ever consider. But I had to say it. I just, I can’t take this anymore. I can’t stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can’t-I can’t look into your eyes without feeling that-that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels. I can’t talk to you without wanting to express my love for everything you are. And I know this will probably queer our friendship – no pun intended – but I had to say it, ’cause I’ve never felt this way before, and I-I don’t care. I like who I am because of it. And if bringing this to light means we can’t hang out anymore, then that hurts me. But God, I just, I couldn’t allow another day to go by without just getting it out there, regardless of the outcome, which by the look on your face is to be the inevitable shoot-down. And, you know, I’ll accept that. But I know, I know that some part of you is hesitating for a moment, and if there’s a moment of hesitation, then that means you feel something too. And all I ask, please, is that you just – you just not dismiss that, and try to dwell in it for just ten seconds. Alyssa, there isn’t another soul on this fucking planet who has ever made me half the person I am when I’m with you, and I would risk this friendship for the chance to take it to the next plateau. Because it is there between you and me. You can’t deny that. Even if, you know, even if we never talk again after tonight, please know that I am forever changed because of who you are and what you’ve meant to me, which – while I do appreciate it – I’d never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of.

And things do look bad, for more than a moment. As he stands there, in the rain, she walks away from him, yelling and angry (understandably).

It’s a moment of undeniable tension, and one I imagine most of us have experienced – “I’ve blown it” or “I said something stupid”, that feeling that you have (through your own stupidity) sabotaged something truly special and lost something that you really cared for – and that it’s all your own damn fault, you can’t blame fate or the world or anybody else for the situation you’ve found yourself in. In that moment there’s just something raw – I think we’ve all been there, we’ve all borne our soul and been left waiting in the rain.

Just to whet your appetite...

And then she comes back. The two kiss in the rain. And it’s beautiful.

It’s just a small and effective scene, and one which really isn’t at the heart of the movie. As becomes abundantly clear a few minutes later, the story isn’t about the guy getting the girl – it’s about what happens afterwards – it’s about all the awkwardness and insecurity that accompanies a complex romantic entanglement. In fact, Holden winning the girl is a relatively minor event in the grand scheme of things.

But that doesn’t make it any less powerful.

And, just for the record, I had a shortlist before I settled on this moment. I wonder if anyone shared these picks. I reckon that some of these are far more popular than others:

The Upside Down Kiss, Spider-Man

Yes, it’s a cliché at this stage, but it’s powerful romantic imagery right there. So much so that when The Simpsons updated the “kiss montage” from Cinema Paradiso, they included this lovely moment. Which offers me a neat segue into…

Elena and Toto at the Outdoor Screening, Cinema Paradiso

It’s a beautiful little moment in a film populated with beautiful little moments. No wonder they used it for the poster. I’m betraying myself to be quite the sap here, aren’t I?

“Deserve’s Got Nuthin’ To Do With It”, Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood’s William Munney decides to avenge his colleague, accepting that ultra-violent part of himself that he hid away so effectively while trying to be a better man than the world would allow him to be. Most of the scene takes place inside the saloon, but the rain provides a wonderful atmosphere of dread as we follow the man that any number of Eastwood’s archetypical characters could have grown up to be, as he finally comes to terms with the fact that he can never be a “good man”.

“Tears in the Rain”, Blade Runner

I imagine that this will be quite popular, if only because it’s so iconic. The entire quote is worth republishing here, and there’s really no need to add anything:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.

By the way, it’s well worth checking out the other entries in this little event, well organsied by Andrew. I won’t spoil any of them – I’ll let the authors themselves make their case…

19 Responses

  1. Nice pick. Definitely not one that comes to mind immediately which is something I tried to strive for myself. I did think of the Spiderman one but there really isn’t much to say about it and isn’t even all that memorable.

    • Yep, I figure it’s a rare one – no point covering something somebody else will do infinitely better, after all. And great pick yourself. Never would have called it, but it seems so obvious in retrospect. Which makes it a perfect choice.

  2. Thank you so much for this mention of one of my favorite films! That whole scene is perfect, and the way everything comes out and plays to be, is so true and realistic, and the rain just adds on more emotion. Great scene!

    • Yep. I love that film far more than I really should. It’s just so raw and honest about all the baggage and insecurity (at least for me).

  3. I’m loving the diversity in choices, and I especially like the analysis. You’re not the first who mentioned the possibility of the upside down kiss and I always forget that that’s a rain scene. Go figure.

    • Thanks – and thanks for the invitation. I just remember the rain because I remember the anecdote that his mask used to cause the water the fill up in Tobey Maguire’s nostrils. Apparently it was hell on earth to film. Still, it’s a great visual, which is what Sam Raimi was going for with those films.

  4. That kiss is the epitome of iconic.
    Also very very hard to pull off in real life.

    • Yep. Closest I’ve come to pulling it off is to rotate both participants ninety degrees so they’re lying down.

  5. Wonderful choices, Darren! The Spidey up-side down kiss is definitely memorable and who could forget the passionate kiss in Cinema Paradiso (though the last scene is downright spectacular). Oh btw, I LOVE that Phil Collins song!

    • Yep. As Amy points out… if only there were rain! And the Simpsons bit where they update it might be my favourite Simpsons clip of the last few years.

  6. C;lint Eastwood lost a step after The Unforgiven — but that scene is his last truly great and manly one.

    • I agree, it was his last great manly one, but “Blood Work” was a perfectly mediocre “Clint as cop” movie, I think. Ah well, at least we got Mystic River and Letters from Iowa Jima.

      And he was pretty manly in Gran Torino? (Even if he didn’t rack up the same sort of body count.)

  7. Can I say, too (and I totally forgot to mention this the firs ttime I read this post): I am a huuuge Phil Collins fan…..

    That is all.

  8. Cinema Paradiso is one of those films non-romantic people can actually love. I mean, that moment is a really REALLY good one, but the kiss montage – oh, if only they had done that in the rain! LOL

    • Yep. I studied it in school, so I have a strong affinity for it. And that montage is just… wow. Words escape me.

  9. Hurrah to the Phil Collins reference. And very nice choices for the blogathon, especially Eastwood. Does this (*spoiler!*) count:

    Not particularly enamoured with the film, but it’s one of the first rain scenes that pops to mind!

    • Eastwood is great a legend. And I think it’s amazing how many rain scenes come to mind off the top of any given blogger’s head. Just illustrates that Andrew was on to something.

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