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This Rain Will Never Stop

This Rain Will Never Stop

[…] In «This Rain Will Never Stop» there is no socio-political commentary, but an exclusive focus on one’s emotional hardship. Here, Gorlova’s main task is to offer flesh and soul to the many “faceless” conflicts we’re made aware of through daily mainstream media narratives.

[…] At times deliberately disorienting in terms of aesthetics and pace, the film’s narrative core remains focused and relatable.

Ukrainian documentarian Alina Gorlova's second feature, entitled This Rain Will Never Stop, took part in this year's edition of FIDFH, following its recent triumph at IDFA where it garnered the prestigious award for Best First Appearance. In detail, the documentary tells us part of the troubled existence of Andriy Suleyman, a twenty-something man with Syrian citizenship, born in Al-Hasakah to a Kurdish father and a Ukrainian mother. In 2012, the family flees the Syrian civil war and Andriy is forced to resettle in Lysychansk, a town located in the Ukrainian region of Luhansk. Two years later, however, a new conflict suddenly breaks out and splits the country, challenging the family's precarious serenity once again.

Entirely shot in majestic black-and-white by talented DoP Vyacheslav Tsvetkov (perhaps best known for his work in other stunning non-fiction pictures such as Iryna Tsilyk's The Earth Is Blue as an Orange and Mantas Kvedaravicius' Parthenon), the documentary catches the young man amidst the harsh Ukrainian landscape and facing a humanitarian disaster, where the local population attempts to maintain a semblance of normality. Andriy is not indifferent to their suffering and decides to join the Red Cross.

The first themes that powerfully emerge are the inescapability of war and the constant feeling of displacement experienced by Andriy. He becomes increasingly torn between the idea of chasing a brighter, independent future for himself somewhere safe in Europe and his duty to help people around him. Thus, the boy ends up “fighting” two wars: an internal struggle between his desire for self-realisation and his strong sense of responsibility and of course the real armed conflict raging in Donbass. Meanwhile, his humanitarian assignments trigger painful memories from his years in Syria. Nonetheless, Andriy chooses to take the path of “duty” and “responsibility,” breaks up with his Ukrainian girlfriend, puts aside his ambitious study plans and rejects the option to move to Germany, a sort of “Promised Land” where he could finally fulfil his aspiration to live a more tranquil life.

His inner struggle is probably most evident in a long sequence depicting Andriy attending his brother's wedding in Germany. Of course, the party is supposed to be a moment of joy and light-heartedness. However, here Gorlova is able to capture the man's emotional turmoil and ephemeral fragments of happiness through several digitally degrading transitions, a heavily distorted soundscape as well as a frenetic camera work and editing. The disturbing electric score and flash-cut transitions gradually take over, putting an end to Andriy's timid attempt to enjoy the hic et nunc.

Andriy is later drawn back to the Middle East, and there the war ends up shaking his existence once again. In Iraq, he finally meets his uncles and aunts that he has not seen for several years and they start sharing their stories, creating a moment of collective catharsis. Next, Andriy is willing to continue his journey into Syria, but the connecting  bridge is flooded by heavy rain. Here, the film's title acquires a concrete meaning, since it alludes to the rain as a metaphor of the young man's unavoidable pain. Later, following his father's sudden death due to cancer, Andriy lays his ashes to rest at the Iraqi-Syrian border and is forced to make an ultimate choice for his future.

In This Rain Will Never Stop there is no socio-political commentary, but an exclusive focus on one's emotional hardship. Here, Gorlova's main task is to offer flesh and soul to the many “faceless” conflicts we're made aware of through daily mainstream media narratives. Notably, the monochrome imagery erases the geographical identity of spaces and favours the director in creating a sort of unique environment spanning from Europe to the Middle East. It also strengthens her intention to highlight the unstoppable cycle of war and peace through a sort of yin-and-yang stylisation, but does not impede her exploration of the numerous “grey areas” around them. At times deliberately disorienting in terms of aesthetics and pace, the film's narrative core remains focused and relatable. The final sequence, set in Berlin, is far from being uplifting and conveys a sensation of unease, somehow reminding the spectators that the Ukrainian and Middle Eastern conflicts – as well as Andriy's “inside war” – are still ongoing and unsolved.

First published: March 16, 2021

This Rain Will Never Stop | Film | Alina Gorlova | UK-LTV-DE-QAT 2020 | 102' | FIFDH 2021

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