Film Review: There Will Come Soft Rains dir. Iván Fund
by Erik Nielsen
Have you ever imagined, perhaps when you were a child, a world without adults? Iván Fund has, but not as William Golding did in Lord of the Flies. Fund’s Vendrán Lluvias Suaves, or in English, There Will Come Soft Rains is a slow but fun tale of a group of children who are left to their own devices as a result of all the adults in the world having entered into an eternal slumber (they’re alive, but they simply can’t wake up). With no explanation or reasoning, the group of misfits are left alone, confused and excited at the prospect of a society without adults.
At the center of the film is Alma, who gathers the neighboring kids to her house, after they realize what has happened to their parents. Milk and cereal is the only meal they can throw together and they soon begin to run out of food to eat. The group decides to make a trek across Argentina towards Alma’s grandma’s house. Although the children are non-actors, they’re quite good, expressing a level of doubt not normally seen in American cinema. Each young actor possesses a sense of intuition, successfully hitting certain emotional beats necessary to make a scene felt.
Instead of an exaggerated and romanticization of youth running free, only bound by the limits of their imaginations, we get a rather mundane affair as the film’s pace is slow and hypnotic. Although, we do get a piece of the wildness when the kids all run into a candy store grabbing every dessert in sight, laughing over melted ice cream. The filmmaker's restraint takes this story to new heights, forgoing any expectations you had of children on an adventure.
Soft Rains has an experiential nature and lack of comment on what an adult-less society would look like. The film has us wander and even get bored with the kids as they traverse the Argentinian countryside. This is not to say the film is without perspective, but it achieves the promise of the slow cinema aesthetic, reminding me of Michelangelo Frammatino’s Le Quattro Volte. There are stretches of time with no dialogue, little editing and only the sounds of a silent neighborhood. The audience is given room for moments of introspection as well as exploring the rhythms and frames of the movie, even daring its audience members to fall asleep. Not everyone responds well to the proposed introspection, (someone was snoring at the screening) but if you’re willing to accept the meditative nature of the art then it is a truly rewarding experience.
There’s much focus on the movements of dogs, who become kids’ best friend in the film. There will be five-minute stretches that feel like a documentary - dogs walking in and out of buildings snacking on what they can find without a human in sight. The scenes feel like accidents. There’s a fun connection here with the kids as they bond with the dogs over time, forming a strong emotional core at the center of the narrative. They journey from one place to the next hoping to find a safe landing spot.
Even though the film reaches a climactic end - where our heroes see and harmonize over something truly extraordinary - we know after the credits roll these kids will continue to bond and love one another finding a life for themselves. In the final frame, they are all huddled together, sleeping peacefully, awaiting what soft rains will come.
You can learn more about the film here.