Before the Rain
Written and directed by Milcho Manchevski, Before the Rain plays with the theme of violence — in many subtle (and not so subtle) ways. The movie, with a structure that is very close to that of pulp-fiction, was incidentally released the same year, uses that circularity to underline the circle of violence (that’s another circle!).
In Before the Rain, the dominant theme is that violence is never localized, and that you’ll hear its echoes in distant unrelated, yet related, parts of the world. Conversely, like one of the central character (Aleksander, Alex) says, while parting with his married girlfriend: “take sides”, the film conjectures that there are no innocent victims. We must all take sides. Curiously, that guarantees nothing, as the fate of Alex testifies — Alex who finally takes sides.
The movie — with three interlocking stories told in three languages — starts (and ends) with Kiril, a young monk who has taken a vow of silence: the part is named “Words”. Kiril comes back to his room to find an Albanian, Muslim girl hiding there. Kiril, just like Aleksander, takes sides, to similar ends.
In “Faces” a middle-aged British women, Anne, is trying to end her troubled marriage peacefully, while her husband is hurt and enraged. A calm returns in their conversation, which happens in a quiet London restaurant, but the calm is short-lived as another animated client is fighting with a waiter — whom he’s accusing of insulting him. Just before that Alex has bade goodbye to her to head back to his native town in Macedonia.
It’s in that village in Macedonia that “Pictures”, the third part, starts with Alex. Alex who’s now an outsider in his own village, and treated like one, is finally pulled into the circle of violence (albeit as a victim) when the women he has loved (and still loves) asks him a favor.
I don’t want to say more, because it is extremely hard to say more and not reveal a lot more — taking away part of the gripping drama. But Before the Rain is more than just a gripping drama. It’s one of those films that you go back to, in your mind, again and again, to find new meanings, new connections. Intricately woven, picturesquely shot, meticulously directed, this film is a must watch for enthusiasts of good, meaningful cinema.