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Review: The Scent of Rain and Lightning

The Scent of Rain and Lightning
03.24.2017
8 10

PLOT: A young woman begins to question the circumstances around her parents murder after the man convicted is released early from prison.

REVIEW: There is a current trend in independent cinema, and it is a welcome one at that. You have COLD IN JULY, BLUE RUIN and last year's HELL OR HIGH WATER, all slow burn thrillers with a huge impact. Happily, we have yet another dark and twisted small town tale brewing courtesy of THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING. Shot on location in Oklahoma, SCENT is a moody tale that will require full attention. The who and why that surrounds a tragic murder is one that takes its time to reveal, and when it does, it’s unexpected and satisfying. Add to that solid performances from Maika Monroe, Will Patton, Mark Webber and more, and you have one hell of a mystery.

When Jody Linder (Monroe) was a young girl, her parents were tragically murdered. And now, the same man convicted of the crime is being released from prison. Billy (Brad Carter) is a bad man, and he clearly has a grudge against Jody and her family. As tensions arise, Jody discovers that all that she knew about her mother and father’s death may have been a lie. Meanwhile, we shift time lines to Jody’s parents, Laurie (Maggie Grace) and  Hugh Jay Linder (Justin Chatwin), and the actions taking place right before their unfortunate demise. Is Billy the killer? Or will Jody discover a truth that she is unprepared for? 

maika monroe aaron poole blake robbins bonnie bedelia brad carter casey twenter independent jeff robinson justin chatwin logan miller maggie grace mark webber mystery nancy pickard the scent of rain and lightning will patton

This is the type of film that twists and turns yet the focus remains on the characters. When we first meet Jody, she wakes up next to a guy that she won't admit to having a “thing" with; it was a nice character choice. Monroe plays Jody as a tough yet wounded survivor. After Billy’s release, she goes to his home to confront him, but soon realizes she may be in too deep. It is a powerful moment, and yes, Carter is an absolute beast here. The actor takes on the crazy quite well, and watching him terrorize her is especially effective. Considering we as an audience are meant to question if Billy is capable of such a horrendous act, it is a fascinating choice to not sugarcoat his violent tendencies.

In the beginning, the two timelines may throw you off. However as the story progresses, this trick draws you in. There are a number of characters that connect as we find out exactly who may have been involved, and what secrets will be discovered. It also helps that Monroe is supported by such an impressive cast. Maggie Grace is terrific here in a bit of an unusual role for the actress. Justin Chatwin doesn’t have as showy of a part as the husband, but it works. And the more I see of Logan Miller, the more I like him. Again, he’s not in it a ton, but he is terrific here as well. This is an exciting collection of actors, one that also features a couple of impressive turns from both Mark Webber and Aaron Poole.

maika monroe aaron poole blake robbins bonnie bedelia brad carter casey twenter independent jeff robinson justin chatwin logan miller maggie grace mark webber mystery nancy pickard the scent of rain and lightning will patton

This is only the second feature for actor turned director Blake Robbins. He, along with cinematographer Lyn Moncrief, have captured the Oklahoma landscape beautifully. Robbins also manages to keep the tension moving throughout. You can credit screenwriters Jeff Robinson and Casey Twenter -  the script is based on a novel by Nancy Pickard - for a smart script that doesn’t pander to the viewer. The way they unravel what happened that dark night is quite satisfying, especially in the final half hour. There is a menacing energy that plays out culminating to an unexpected conclusion.

As the time shifts, I did find it to be slightly disconnected at times. This may have been the intention of the filmmakers because it adds to the confusion that Jody is faced with. And it is slightly off-putting to envision Grace as Monroe’s mother, even though a young Jody is featured (Meg Crosbie). Occasionally I had to remind myself that this is a different part of the story, as they both sort of felt contemporary. However, It ultimately works, as the two worlds begin to fall into place, and the intentions of those involved become clear. THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING is yet another impressive modern day thriller, one that puts story and character first.

Extra Tidbit: The Scent of Rain and Lightning is currently playing the festival circuit.
Source: JoBlo.com

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