‘This Rain Will Never Stop’ attempts a heartbreaking and visually stunning story, but lacks cohesion

It is clear that Alina Gorlova knows how to direct a documentary with style, however, the way she shows an incredible story is uninteresting and confusing.

A great documentary is defined by how it makes a topic interesting through impressive filmmaking. A documentary could be about something as boring as filing taxes, and if a filmmaker can make it interesting for everyone, they've created something special.

“This Rain Will Never Stop,” the new film from Alina Gorlova, does the complete opposite. Although the documentary was about war, grief and a separated family, all of which should be interesting, it found a way to lose my interest instantly.

The documentary follows Andriy Suleyman and his personal battle between his work as a Red Cross volunteer living in Eastern Europe and his family being scattered across Europe due to the Syrian civil war. While Andriy could have studied at a university to make his family proud, he decided that it was best for him to volunteer. Intercut between the main story, Gorlova shows audiences images of war, festivities and mundane life to display how good times will never stop the bad.

For starters, none of the people Gorlova documents are given enough backstory for me to feel invested. Andriy Suleyman, essentially the protagonist, was far too boring to be the central figure of a documentary. All we know about him is that he likes volunteering and that he loves his family. I got nothing else from his presence.

The most interesting people in the story, Andriy’s family who live in Iraq, are barely given screen time or context as to who they are for me to care about them or what is happening to them. Instead of cutting to another pretentious metaphorical montage intercutting a pride parade with soldiers marching, Gorlova should have stuck to analyzing this war-torn family dynamic and how being apart affects each member.

The documentary’s best moments are the intimate ones, especially when Andriy sees his family in Iraq for the first time in many years. The family embraces Andriy with hugs, kisses and happy tears. This is what I wanted to see for almost two hours. Unfortunately, most of that runtime is wasted on pointless side stories and monotonous metaphorical montages that have nothing to do with what could have been an amazing central story.

This is not to say that the film has no redeeming qualities. From a technical standpoint, the film is a genuine delight.

Shot completely in black and white, the documentary looks gorgeous and brings back the same amazement of when I first watched “Raging Bull” or “Eraserhead.”.

Each shot is handled with such mastery and precision; my jaw dropped with every cut. Gorlova deserves props for not wasting a single visual aspect. The use of empty space and black-and-white visuals set the dreary and dark tone for the film.

I also found the musical score of the documentary to be brutally soul-crushing in the best way possible. The drone-heavy ambience fits the themes of war and grief well.

Although ambitious, “This Rain Will Never Stop” left me confused, frustrated and underwhelmed. With such interesting material, Gorlova sure finds ways to really lose my interest. There are a few words that sum up my thoughts: style over substance.

Edited by Shannon Worley | sworley@themaneater.com

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