The already marginal audience for New Age cinema is unlikely to flip for leading Mexican writer-director Maryse Sistach’s misbegotten family drama “Moon Rain.” Becoming more laughable the more it drives its serious intentions home, Sistach and co-writer Consuela Garrido’s scenario depicts the death and goofy reincarnation of the daughter of a classical singer, complicating four youths’ beachside tryst. Though certain of local release, the film’s international prospects look DOA, barring scattered Latin American fests.
Problems seem apparent early on as the film begins with three unrelated scenes. Three gals (led by top Mexican thesp Luisa Pardo, playing Chabe) phone pal Pablo (Alan Estrada) about joining them at their beach tent, set up near the coastal Yucatan ruins of Tulum. Another girl is then seen floating in the water over credits, with a female voiceover commenting on how she has been unable to sing since her daughter died. Finally, Angela (Maria Filippini) practices singing Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” in her home studio while disruptive teen daughter Lisa (Naian Gonzalez) peruses “Alice in Wonderland” and fiddles with a guy’s wallet, which was lost at a party she attended.
Eventually, the three pieces come together, but the film never finds a consistent tone, pace or internal dramatic compass. Lisa is determined to meet the wallet’s owner when she sees how cute he is (it’s Pablo!) and prances about their Japanese-style home in an angel costume for yet another upcoming party. Mom, wisely, wishes Lisa would calm down.
One wishes the same for the film, which inserts bits of Chabe and her pals running around the beach to no real effect or purpose. Returning from her successful solo concert, Angela sees Lisa take a fatal fall from the roof, but the film’s subsequent dramatization of grief is thoroughly unaffecting, including the mother’s trek to the Yucatan coast to scatter Lisa’s ashes where she scattered her husband’s.
En route, Angela experiences some ineptly staged visions of Lisa as an angel, then comes upon a car crash survived by none other than Pablo, who slips into Angela’s car. In a touch that adds to the unintented comedy, Pablo pulls out a flute and plays it (audibly dubbed, performed by Javier Arroyo). Once at the beach, Pablo and Angela part ways, and he hooks up — at last — with Chabe and Co. for what looks like an inexplicably sexless romp despite their comments on how a full moon can get the gals hot and bothered. Suddenly, up pops a flesh-and-blood Lisa out of a muddy patch of ground, and Pablo swoons for her.
Incapable of pulling off cosmic conceits onscreen, the pic marks a significant downturn from Sistach’s widely praised run over the past decade with “Violet Perfume” and “The Girl on the Stone.” Even “Moon Rain’s” more emotionally credible aspects, such as Chabe’s growing jealousy over Lisa can’t redeem this mess, which looks as though it may have been at least fun to make.
Perfs are generally poor, though Pardo brings some honest human qualities to her ill-written character. Production qualities are modest, with pretty underwater lensing by Alex Fenton.