This Rain Will Never Stop
Like so many Syrians, Andriy Suleyman was forced to leave his home country as a result of an ongoing civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since 2011. The twenty-year-old man, born to a Kurdish father and a Ukrainian mother, is the subject of Alina Gorlova’s devastatingly beautiful This Rain Will Never Stop, an episodic, border-crossing film that tracks this unconventional protagonist’s journey from his new home in Lysychansk (a small town located in the eastern part of Ukraine) back to his place of birth, where he will collect the body of a loved one following that family member’s sudden death. Along the way, Andriy, who has joined the Red Cross as a volunteer, delivers humanitarian aid (including modern stoves and other cooking supplies) to villagers who, like him, know all-too-well the human costs of military conflict. Although several recent productions have taken up the topic of the Syrian refugee crisis, this silky black-and-white documentary distinguishes itself from a host of other films by viewing that subject through a poetic lens reminiscent of the visual style of earlier generations’ arthouse directors, including that of Larisa Shepitko (a Ukrainian forerunner active during the 1960s and 1970s). Working with the celebrated cinematographer Vyacheslav Tsvetkov, Gorlova captures moments of mesmerizing beauty in unexpected places, whether a military parade on the streets of Kiev or a gay-pride parade on the streets of London. Indeed, their ability to transform a bleak, pulverized landscape — be it a trash-littered river, a bomb-laden forest, or a silt-covered mountain — into an image of aesthetic contemplation rivals what Shepitko and her cinematographers achieved in Soviet-era masterpieces such as Wings (1966) and The Ascent (1977). With its carefully composed shots, monochromatic lyricism, and oblique structure, This Rain Will Never Stop marks Gorlova’s own ascent into the upper echelons of arthouse cinema. But, below its beguiling surface, the film’s primary strengths lie in its sensitive approach to the themes of cultural dislocation and the specter of endless war.
-David Scott Diffrient
Ukraine, Germany, Latvia, and Qatar
Russian, Kurdish, Ukrainian, German, and Arabic with English subtitles