When I first watched it I came away not fully convinced if I’d enjoyed it, I knew I didn’t not like it, maybe it was indifference? Then I walked home and scenes of it played in my mind like a memories; the beautiful composed theme ( by from Ed Harcort) hasn’t left my head since. Now the more and more I think about it, even as I write this, the more I am of the belief that Frank Whaley delivered a truly special film.
Set in the New York state, predominantly in the large overbearing house of a lonely 12-year-old prodigy, Like Sunday, like rain follows Reggie and his live-in nanny, Eleanor, as they navigate their way through a close relationship during a brief summer in the city.
After breaking up with her negligent boyfriend, Eleanor finds herself homeless and jobless in New York, unable to go back to her parents’ and with dwindling funds, she’s at her wit’s end. She’s thrown a life-line when she soon after signing up with a recruitment agency for au-pairs, she lands herself a job looking after Reggie. It’s almost too good to be true when she finds out its a live-in position looking after a child who is more than capable of looking after himself.
From a wealthy family, and with sparse friends (one friend really, and even then he’s loathe to admit he even likes them). Reggie is smart. That kind of smart that means he’s bored with everything because he’s knows it all. Unlike kids his age he is self-aware, more comfortable reading a book, playing his cello and walking instead of being driven to and from school… he also only eats tofu. Reggie is the level-headed adult and Eleanor is still trying to figure things out; with his help and matter-of-fact point of view, Reggie helps to unlock and reignite some of Eleanor’s relegated aspirations; he accompanies her when she has to face up to the messy life she left back home with her family and in return she shows him the affection and attention that’s missing in his life.
Newcomer Julian Shatkin is a perfect fit for Reggie, he delivers the character with ease – a mix of fierce intelligence and pre-pubescent childishness. Some of the funniest moments in the film emerge from Reggie’s blunt assessment of those around him. Leighton Meester is charming, and possesses the not so easy ability to convey complex emotions without having to say anything at all. Take for example a scene where she hears Reggie playing the cello during a music rehearsal (that he composed) – It’s stunning sight to see her expression move from awe, to glee and then deep sadness.
Like Sunday, like Rain is an unconventional film for an American production, mainly because of it’s underplayed execution, melancholic overtones and the lack of mainstream music bombarding every other scene (despite its two lead actors being under 30). Accompanied by beautiful still wide shots and dream-like filters makes it blindingly clear just how overwhelming and small Reggie and Eleanor may feel. As the film goes on the shots draw in closer; it’s just the two of them, it’s intimate, they have each other. But when Eleanor makes a decision to leave in the last act the shots become distant, almost cold, they’re placed on complete opposite sides of the frame – when they communicate there are long silences and echoed dialogue to emphasise the distance between them – they’re pulling away.
The film doesn’t end on a particularly happy note, nor a bad one, but things that are expected to happen never do: Reggie confesses to Eleanor that he can’t swim – she never teaches him, it’s actually never mentioned again. Reggie’s mother (a brilliantly highly strung and shrewd turn by Debra Messing) never returns to realise that she could do better as a Mother; Reggie mentions father, but the conversation is cut short when he simply asks not to talk about it. Eleanor never gets back with her idiotic boyfriend (did I mention that Billie Joe Armstrong is very good? No? Well some of his scenes brought many laughs from the audience), there’s no big pay off at the end where she’s figured life out. So then we’re left wondering what if – because life is essentially like that, a series of probabilities and questions we don’t always know the answers to, including if these two dear friends will ever see each other again – but there’s always hope.
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