This small, intense man, Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduvir), speaks with such passion and persuasion that Sebastian - against his better judgment - casts him as the Taino chief. And so, the production is off and running: re-creating Columbus' landfall and the sailors' meeting with the natives.
But Daniel is also the leader of a group of citizens protesting the government's move to privatize the city's water company. Water rates have become prohibitive. Protests start to take place in the streets. The police clamp down. Tensions mount.
Bollaín, who began her career as an actress, knows the workings of a movie production intimately, and the details here are dead-on: a table read where the actor playing Columbus (Karra Elejalde) switches startlingly, mesmerizingly into character; a videographer (Emma Suárez) earnestly shooting a "making of" documentary; cast rebellions; logistical woes.
Even the Rain becomes a little too obvious as it tacks back and forth between the on-camera reenactments of Columbus' rapacious forays and the Bolivian power elite's move to wrest water rights from its citizens and to stifle rebellion. Of course, the government is in league with multinational utility corporations.
But by grounding the story in the personal - in Bernal's and Tosar's characters' conflicted agendas, sympathizing with the protesters and yet wanting desperately to get their movie made, and the way in which Daniel, the Bolivian Indian, exploits the filmmakers for his own political purposes - Even the Rain strikes a deep and resonant chord.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea
at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/