Like Sunday, Like Rain full movie review - A testament to the fact that you never know what you'll get with Frank Whaley
Like Sunday, Like Rain, at first, focuses on the lives of two separate individuals in Brooklyn, one of whom, a twentysomething woman named Eleanor (Leighton Meester) who break
s up with her obnoxious, rock-star boyfriend (Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong) and moves in with her friend, and the other, a cynical, twelve-year-old prodigy named Reggie (Julian Shatkin), who, despite so young and full of talents, is skeptical of all aspects of life. Their paths cross when Eleanor's boyfriend costs her the only job she's ostensibly ever held down, a barista position at a local coffee shop, leading her to accept a job babysitting Reggie while his mother is out of town.
Reggie is about as cynical as a sixty-five-year-old war veteran is about the current state of America and that's putting it mildly. Still largely treated like a child by his own mother and only finding temporary companionship in his maid, Reggie spends his days in his castle-of-a-home playing the cello, composing, or simply indulging in his own thoughts, all things he taught himself how to do. Reggie's misery doesn't stem from any one certain circumstance; he's adopted cynicism as the religion of his life, remaining skeptical of most people he meets in addition to writing things off immediately without trying anything new.
Eleanor is the first soul in a long time to really resonate with him, mainly because she finds him interesting despite all the bottled up frustration he holds inside. Thankfully, Eleanor has the privilege of being played by Leighton Meester, a lovely and often overshadowed young actress in the face of similar actresses like Brie Larson and Rosemarie DeWitt. Meester's strengths here largely stem from her ability to be a natural screen presence, never asserting her character in a dramatic light, and Shatkin - in one of his first film roles - has the exquisite ability to perform long, sometimes complicated, monologues about his opinions that would even make a seasoned performer stumble over their words.
The film was written and directed by Frank Whaley, a solid character actor and an even better director; this is his first film since the unseen and unfairly bashed New York City Serenade in 2007. This particular effort seems to catch Whaley in a more contemplative mood, one that features the complications and insights of the world being defined by a prepubescent teenager that feels he has figured the world out. With that in mind, one can tell this is less a realistic film and more a "what if?" kind of film. Reggie doesn't speak nor act like any twelve-year-old I believe to exist (maybe sixteen-year-old, but not a twelve-year-old), and it's hard to believe these kind of profound bouts of cynicism in life would begin earlier than high school or college.
Yet, Whaley himself might even recognize that Reggie's cynicism is a bit premature for his age, and with that, might want us to focus more on the chemistry or the smooth flow of the dialog in the film. Consider the scene where Eleanor and Reggie lie on the grass, with Reggie doing something he probably doesn't do with people too often and that's open up about his true feelings towards Eleanor on a friend level. Whaley makes it so these scenes of chemistry and a young man coming to terms with how his attitude polarizes people make it so that the lack of dialog-realism doesn't become such a distraction.
Like Sunday, Like Rain doesn't appear to have the kind of long-term effect Whaley's other films have, such as the somber effect I had for days upon seeing The Jimmy Show or the incorruptible cheerfulness I had upon seeing New York City Serenade. However, this reminds me that I'll never know exactly what Whaley will make next or how he'll approach his subject matter; he has now made four directorial efforts, each different from the last and all capable of producing different thoughts and emotions. It's hard enough to do that, let alone remain relevant for decades when you mostly have supporting character roles in films.
Starring: Leighton Meester, Julian Shatkin, and Billie Joe Armstrong. Directed by: Frank Whaley.