Review: The Rain People (1969)

The Rain People“, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is a story about the quintessential American dream. A young New York housewife (the absolutely stunning Shirley Knight) runs away from her husband and impeding pregnancy.

Natalie drives a Ford station wagon Westward (a colonial apropos, perhaps). On her escapade, she encounters Killer (James Caan), a mild-mannered simpleton and they strike an odd relationship in the spirit of  “Of Mice and Men” or “Huckleberry Fin”. Dealing with issues such as fidelity, abortion, mental illness, The Rain People is an intimate study of 1960s America. The dismantling of the nuclear family as a social problem is also bravely noted by Coppola. A problem that isn’t seriously addressed until films such as “Kramer vs. Kramer” in the late 70s.

The cinematography is sublime; a particular example is a hotel room scene where vanity mirrors are cleverly used to show Natalie and Killer together in the same room, yet apart in the separate mirrors. The flashback scenes are a bit uneven and inconsistent (the original scene sound plays over silent flashbacks whereas other flashbacks have their own sound) but they give a very tangible awareness of the characters’ pasts.

Overall, I found “The Rain People” to be an enjoyable experience and an unforgettable film.