As writer, director, and lead actor of the Act 13 distribution Inside the Rain, Aaron Fisher constructs a therapeutic reflection of the struggles he has faced over the course of his life, dealing with bipolar disorder, ADHD, OCD, and borderline personality disorder. An extremely personal and intimate passion project, this film gives a direct voice to an underrepresented group of filmmakers. It is not often that you find a story of this nature created by an artist with such an individualized familiarity with the subject matter.
The core of the narrative is a fascinating meta commentary on the life of Fisher. In Fisher’s words, “I felt like if I didn’t tell my story, I would die.” Inside the Rain was an immensely crucial constituent, not only for his artistic career, but for his life in general. The character of Ben Glass has a similar burning desire for storytelling. Glass is studying film in college, but one of his manic episodes leads to his potential expulsion from school. Hell-bent on sticking around as a student, Glass formulates an idea to create a short film that will convince his school supervisors of his “innocence” per se. Thus, Inside the Rain is essentially a medicinal film project for Fisher, depicting a very similar approach to coping for the character of Glass.
Joining Glass in his enterprise is Emma Taylor (Ellen Toland), a lovely, kindhearted individual, who is one of the few people who really “gets” Glass. Some may be surprised to find that Taylor is also a sex worker. But, that is not the sole identity of her character. Those working in the sex industry are often viewed as illegitimate, lowly outcasts of society, and are characterized as such in many movies. Inside the Rain subverts all of these tropes, beautifully establishing the compassion and generosity of Taylor as a decent human being. She has honest goals, hopes, and dreams, and, for the moment, making money in this specific occupation is what she believes to be the best route for herself. The strength and resilience of Taylor is presented as well, in her endurance of constant abuse that so unfortunately plagues her line of work. Coincidentally, it is during one of these abusive situations that Taylor meets Glass, as he intervenes with a group of men taunting and making inappropriate advances upon Taylor as she leaves her shift at a strip club. The connection between Taylor and Glass traverses a long and winding road of ebbs and flows throughout the runtime. Witnessing the arc of their relationship is quite an emotional journey, delivering broad nuances of tender affection (both platonic and romantic), heartbreak, frustration, and peaceful contentedness. In their respective roles, Fisher and Toland are both charming and charismatic in their screen presences, carrying most of the acting load. Supporting roles include Eric Roberts as Monty Pennington (a failed film producer who attempts to con Glass out of $5,000), Catherine Curtin and Paul Schulze as Nancy and Dave Glass, respectively (the parents of Ben Glass), and the ever-so-poised talent of Rosie Perez (as the hard-edged, no-BS psychiatrist, Dr. Holloway). Their performances administer a solid framework for the more pronounced portrayals from the primary duo, Fisher and Toland.
From the outside looking in, it is not necessarily fair for me to judge the accuracy, or lack thereof, in regard to Fisher’s portrayal of his character, Ben Glass. Only Fisher can truly understand his own experiences with this array of mental illnesses, which are adapted into the story of Glass. I can, however, take a look at the thematic coherency and general direction techniques presented by Fisher in this production effort. With this in mind, Fisher’s feature-length directorial debut is a very impressive achievement exhibiting promising flashes of talent and aptitude. Just looking at Fisher’s undertaking of responsibilities on the film’s production is admirable in itself. “I feel more comfortable behind the camera than in front of the camera – yet I’m in virtually every scene of the movie,” says Fisher. A complex balancing act of this disposition is a demanding, burdensome, and laborious endeavor. Yet, for the most part, there is a sense of steadiness in Fisher’s direction of the film. While the narrative jumps around chronologically, tonally, and situationally, it never quite feels out of control. Clearly, with the story of someone with bipolar disorder, the character is going to encounter a broad range of emotional highs and lows. A traditional story structure would not have been the most suitable procedure. I would even go so far as to say that the prevailing vibe and style of the movie is somewhat awkward, but this is not to its detriment. As the viewer, you recognize that you are in good hands, and that Fisher is genuinely, sincerely telling a story and making a film that is his own.
This is not the type of film that you go into with the expectation of spellbinding technological displays to be ogled and marveled in an IMAX theater. Taking this into account, the availability of Inside the Rain on Amazon Prime is an excellent attribute, especially as COVID-19 continues to cast a long shadow on the entertainment business and the world as a whole. Aaron Fisher’s labor of love is worth checking out on streaming, and comes with a solid recommendation.
Available on Amazon Prime Video and digital now.
For more information, head to the official Inside the Rain website.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5.