Thursday, March 1, 2007
Dry rain, or, technically, “virga,” is a common summer phenomenon of the Great Plains--rain drawn down from the clouds, but evaporating before reaching the ground. Visually striking, like tattered, gray drapes dragging beneath the clouds, it gives the hope of rain, but, really, little else.
Adapted from the title story of Pete Fromm’s award winning collection, DRY RAIN takes place over the course of an otherwise non-descript afternoon on the high plains of the Montana/Canadian border. Stil, a man in his early forties, is caught up in his own drought--his family, his financial means, and his power to do anything about either, have evaporated. This afternoon, he’s crossed
the line, stealing his nine year-old son, Joey, from his ex-wife, Tracy. The question is whether, as Stil insists, he has taken Joey on a “vacation” across the border into Canada, or has abducted him with the intent to receive a ransom for his return.
As the film begins, they’re stopped at a phone booth in a tiny roadside Canadian town, calling Joey’s mom to assure her of his safety, and to negotiate his return. The conversation boils over, and Tracy hangs up on Stil. Too late, he slams down the booth’s phone, breaking it in two. Left with what his father has broken, Joey picks up the half phone, and speaks into it, quietly repeating the words his father had shouted. “You owe me. I had a life with you.”
With the finely tuned perception and wit of a nine year-old, Joey “hears everything” in his parent’s series of phone booth conversations, and by repeating it back to his father, he takes the lead in helping Stil face reality, bringing him face to face with what is left of their own displaced relationship. As Stil decides to return Joey to the U.S. border, where he’ll be picked up by his mother, without any ransom paid, there is no doubt about the sincerity and affection between Joey and Stil, despite all that’s been broken.