the rain review - tv show that will not surprise you, but lure you in
It’s not as simple as it would seem – I explore all shades of Scandinavia, therefore I would watch any production made there. To be straightforward, maybe I’d like to do that, but simply there is too much of that. Nevertheless, post apocalyptic Denmark saved by bunch of teenagers wouldn’t go to the top of my must see list. And with the awareness of how predictable “The Rain” is, I cannot wait for the season 2. Especially that there was one twist, that I didn’t expect and cannot explain.
SIX FEET UNDER FOR SIX YEARS
There is a virus in the rain, that kills every human who had a contact with it. One may die after standing in the falling drops from the clouds, one may die after slipping into a pond with the water that came from the sky, one may die being licked by a contagious dog. Fredrik Anderson (Lars Simonsen) works for the Apollon company, which has a connection with the rain – we don’t if maybe they caused it or maybe an accident happen. Fredrik evacuates in time his wife and two children: Simone (Alba August) and Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen). They managed to get to a special bunker before the rain starts. Of course, children are confused, no one is telling them anything. Fredrik leaves his family, telling Simone that she has to watch out for Rasmus, cause he is the key for everything (I am quoting from my memory and I can bet I am close to the original words as we have all heard them in so many other productions). 15 minutes later siblings are abandoned by their father and their mother is dead. For the next six years Simone as the older sister had to maintain control over the situation and make sure that they both stay healthy (without going into the sun at all).
Six years later Simone decides that she and Rasmus need to leave the bunker. They make a contact with bunch of other teenagers. Of course, at first, they are hostile to each other, but obviously they decide to cooperate in order to survive and later they become friends. And even more, obviously. The group, besides Simone and Rasmus, contains Martin (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), Beatrice (Angela Bundalovic), Lea (Jessica Dinnage), Patrick (Lukas Løkken) and Jean (Sonny Lindberg). They find out that Denmark and part of Sweden became an area of a quarantine, surrounded by a wall (the northern wall, heh, that is located just below Stockholm), beyond which there is a normal life. This became their destination.
Just as the group is formed, it’s obvious who is gonna fall in love with whom. We will participate in those cringy conversations between teenagers, about first love and first sex, we will see all those smiles and teasing, the whole spectrum of unreasonable emotions and reaction which the teenagers provide. We will also observe the standard division of personal characteristics: girls will be more empathetic and caring, willing to risk in order to save strangers or share food with them; boys will be cold and reserved, focusing on survival, getting the food and shelter and ready to kill anyone. Of course, the boys will change under the influence of the girls. Of course, there is a person with problematic past with shattered emotions, there is someone from the “normal” family with well-organized moral code, there is someone deeply good but with bad choices hovering over, there is someone with military experience in order to truly keep the group safe and be their leader. What maybe was surprising regarding the set of characters, was a person deeply believing in God – if it was group of Norwegian teenagers then maybe I wouldn’t be so shocked. Although Danish religious person still makes more sense than a Swedish one, but still, it was so exaggerated, that fitted only into tv show.
Another obvious motif is the one regarding Fredrik and the Apollon company. We could have seen something similar in the Maze Runner or name-ten-other-production, where the scientists in order to make the world a better place they, they screw up big time. Of course we can suspect that Fredrik lives, although it still remains curiosity why he didn’t come back for his children. Again, we have a bunch of teenagers, remaining true and honest and moral, against the ruthless adults, working for the big company.
THE MODERN CONFLICT BETWEEN DENMARK AND SWEDEN
What was fascinating for me was the national aspect of “ The Rain”. Let’s take it one by one. All the main characters belong to a group tagged as “Danish teenagers”. They can meet other Danish people, falling into three groups: 1) the ones who survived the rain and now fight for survival and they can be fierce, but rather won’t kill you, even maybe share some informations with you; 2) the ones working for Apollon as cogs in the wheel – still part of the system, but mostly used by it and those will be morally somewhere in the middle, breaking some rules in order to help the group but still keep it reliable for the supervisors; 3) and the ones working for Apollon on high positions, like Fredrik Anderson, who is truly good and kind, but was forced to change (or pretend to change) in the new situation. Now, if we keep that three groups of characters, but we change the nationality, all gets political (or at least stereotypically funny). If the group meets other people from the first category, so who survived the rain and are not Danish, they will be Swedish – and with that comes all what Danes think of Swedes. They will be kind, they will help, but they will be forcing everyone else to adjust to the rules in behaviour and clothes (like in 1984 or according to Jantelagen) and if someone breaks the rules it means exclusion from the society. And you want to break free from them at some point, because despite food and shelter, Swedes will reveal very fucked up feature. From the second category, people working as proles for the Apollon, if they are not Danish, they are mostly Russian and with that they become ruthless and violent and all they deserve is death. Finally, people working alongside Fredrik as scientists, by belonging to Swedish nationally, they become the source of all evil. Really. This national aspect of “The Rain” made the tv show more intriguing for me, but more in terms of political and sociological observation (only one type of Russian personality and twisted criticism towards Sweden) rather than entertainment.
MINIMALISM AND EXPRESSIONISM
I truly loved the editing and all the technical job done in “The Rain”. Every scene was set in similar, monochromatic range of colours, greyish and bluish, gloomy and peaceful. Episodes were not filled with puffed dialogues or elongated shots of the landscape. The creators of the show managed to use fast and slow modes, shots from the drone perspective and close ups, showing great awareness of the camera possibilities, building up a tension and atmosphere with simple techniques. The only thing regarding this post-production process that causes my uncertainty, is the music. In “The Rain” popular music, from indie folk and dreamy pop genres was used and I could recognize almost every song. And as from one side I could reasonable justify the choice of particular song in a particular scene, my heart didn’t feel it. It was far away from feeling that I have with the music set in Peaky Blinders, for example, where very famous modern songs are perfectly timed with the scene. Arctic Monkeys for interwar Birmingham is not clinching, while Cigarettes After Sex in “The Rain” does.
However predictable the characters are, I was very much impressed with the actors, especially with Alba August and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard. The latter I knew from A Royal Affair from 2012, which was his debut and he gave there a spectacular performance. In “The Rain” I couldn’t get enough of him, he reached the highest levels of acting. And the others mostly followed him. Most of the pressure was put on Alba August, for me representing the same level as Følsgaard. Beside them, for sure I’ll remember and root for more productions with Jessica Dinnage, who plays with such a magnetism, also making hard to look away.
CONCLUSION - SEASON 1 OF THE RAIN
There is a reason for many “of course” in this text. I can see why many viewers are disappointed with this production, especially giving into account huge promotion served by Netflix, comparable with Strangers Things. If you want twists and unexpected characters, you’re gonna be annoyed and disappointed. I knew what’s gonna happen in the last episode after first 40 minutes. Maybe I simply haven’t had high expectations or during watching “The Rain”, when I saw another obvious thing or solution or emotion, I just shrug my shoulders and keep on watching. There is something about this show, that lured me in it and I’m looking forward to the next season. One of the reason might be the need to find out the truth about the rain. Does it really kill humans? You think you know the answer even before the first episode, but suddenly you start to doubt that.