A bleak, documentary-style drama, RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER, is a cold and compelling look into a frightening future. The idea of incarcerating women who have had abortions is timely, even if the delivery is sometimes preachy.
It is the year 2042. Alison Goldring (Ali Thomas) and her mother Beverly (Betty Buckley) have both been imprisoned in the Walker Point Secure Facility for the crime of kidnaping. Kidnaping is the new legal term used to identify an illegal abortion, and Ali is the first woman to be prosecuted
under the new New York state law. Her mother has also been incarcerated for helping her get to Sweden, where she had the procedure done. A reporter (Carolyn McConmick) is interviewing the Goldrings as well as their family members and others associated with the case in order to document the rise of
these strong anti-abortion laws. Ali spells out in detail how she became pregnant and fled the country to seek a safe and discreet abortion in Europe. An advocate (Linda Hunt) who heads the Atwood Society--an all female group without much power in this male dominated world--helps chronicle the
simultaneous rise of powerful religious factions and erosion of women's rights at end of the 20th century. The Goldrings' plight illustrates just how tragically far things have progressed.
Just when all seems lost for the Ali and her mother, a doctor from Sweden comes forward with information which shows that Ali had actually miscarried before the abortion took place. They are set free, but a politically minded New York state prosecutor (Iona Morris) promises that they'll be back
in jail soon because of criminal intent.
RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER is certainly food for thought. The oppressive future director Gary Bennett paints is frighteningly realistic; in fact, Bennett's 21st-century world doesn't look all that different from the one we in which we live in. The film's documentary conceit, which relies heavily on
talking head footage, saves on futuristic decor, and aside from some new slang, there's very little to distinguish this world from contemporary America; the hand-held camera and cinema verite style work exceedingly well in the interview segments, adding to the film's sense of Big Brother's
presence. But RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER's point isn't style or production values--it's the message that the United States is a stone's throw away from rigid religious government which could set back women's rights.
The actors have little opportunity to get out of the interviewer's chair, but keep their characters compelling within the limitations of the film's structure. Thomas and Buckley are fine as the persecuted daughter and mother, but the real standout is Hunt. She's entirely convincing as the
subject of a documentary interview, and is given the script's best expository material.
RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER will inevitably be compared to other futuristic movies, particularly THE HANDMAID'S TALE, but this is a more intimate piece than has been offered before in the genre. Although flawed, and at times didactic, the film still offers an unusual and frightening viewing experience.
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: A bleak, documentary-style drama, RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER, is a cold and compelling look into a frightening future. The idea of incarcerating women who have had abortions is timely, even if the delivery is sometimes preachy. It is the year 2042. Alison Gol… (more)