Cultures collide; secrets are revealed; and bad acting “reigns” supreme in the latest CodeBlack release, “Rain.” Based on the late author, V.C. Andrews book of the same title, this film is a poor adaptation from her popular book.
The film tells the story of biracial Rain Arnold (Brooklyn Sudano). She lives in a rundown house with a devoted, sickly mother, Latitia (“CSI: Miami’s” Khandi Alexander), an absentee and sometimes abusive father, Ken (Giancarlo Esposito). While Rain is a good student and fledgling musician, who’s trying to do the right thing with her life, her sister, Beni (Jerrika Hinton), loves the allure of the fast life in the streets. Soon enough, she encounters the neighborhood kingpin, Jared (Mario Mims), who drugs her, rapes her and seeks to blackmail her with incriminating photos.
In the midst of all of this madness, Rain finds out that her real parents paid the Arnolds to take her in and raise her as their own. If that admission is not hurtful enough, Beni is killed by neighborhood thugs, setting events in motion that will reunite Rain with her birth family. Fortunately, she escapes Jared’s wrath by moving, but he has unfinished business with Rain and continues to track her down.
Much like the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Rain leaves the inner city and heads to upper-crust society, moving in with Hudson family matriarch Isabel Hudson (Faye Dunaway). She is ridiculed by snobby White relatives, taught “proper” manners and how to ride horses, and sent to the exclusive Coventry school for further “refinement.” While it was humorous in the “Fresh Prince,” it is demeaning and offensive in this film. The only person that Rain opens up to is the chauffeur and retired police officer, Jake (Robert Loggia)
The film takes many liberties with Andrew’s book, inserting characters into the film that were absent from the book. Also the politics of the film leave much to be desired. Sudano, the daughter of singer Donna Summer, is the light-skinned good daughter, while her sister in the film, Hinton, is the dark-skinned “wild” child who lusts after fast money and the street life, only to end up dead. Mims’ portrayal of Jared seemed to be modeled after rapper, 50 Cent, giving him menacingly stupid dialogue and a viciously violent gang persona.
Much like Oscar-winner Helen Mirren’s appearance in the lackluster indie film, “Shadowboxer,” Dunaway appears to bring limited life to this sad and predictable affair. Along with Loggia and Alexander (who hasn’t looked this bad since she was “cracked-out” in “The Corner”), the threesome are probably the only reasons that this film was made in the first place.
Sudano is fair in her first leading role, but the script ultimately lets her down. It’s amazing that in 2007, a filmmaker thought that a Black person going to an exclusive White school and living with a White family merited special treatment. The shock that she was intelligent, creative and articulate, wow! Sudano acquits herself well and may have a future if she chooses the right material. Despite brief moments of sunshine, the film is a cinematic washout.