It’s no surprise that this is a political film with regular Ken Loach collaborator, Paul Laverty, as scriptwriter; indeed the director, Icíar Bollaín (and Laverty’s wife) appeared in Loach’s Land and Freedom (1995). Gael Garcia Bernal adds his star wattage (so far unseduced by Hollywood though he’s slated to appear in a 20th Century Fox production Zorro Reborn) which, along with terrific Bolivian locations, offers a gripping investigation into the colonialism of Colombus and multinational companies.
One of the locations is Cochabamba and it uses the local indigenous Quechua population’s protests, in 2000, against the privatisation of water as a backdrop to the making of a film, Bernal is the director, about Columbus. The title is taken from a phrase that ‘even the rain’ is being privatised. Increasingly the backdrop is foregrounded as the filmmaker’s get embroiled in the state’s attempt to suppress the rebellion with force. It is this narrative overlap that, quite brilliantly, allows the film to interrogate its own role in exploiting the locals as extras. A dialectic is set up between the Europeans making the film and the original rapacious Portuguese. In this it reminded me of Under Fire (US, 1983), a brilliant indie film about America’s involvement in Nicaragua.
The performances are great, particularly Luis Tosar as the film’s producer who has to confront his own morality. I don’t understand how such an engaging film failed to find much of an audience. The narrative is utterly gripping as the insurrection gets bloodier and includes a ‘race against time’ conclusion that’s as crowd pleasing as any Hollywood chase. Well I like to think so.