Like Sunday, Like Rain (2014)
Plot: A struggling musician becomes a 12-year-old musical prodigy’s guardian for a summer.
Review: Reggie (Julian Shatkin) is a 12-year-old cello prodigy and an all-round genius living in the Upper West Side of New York City with a self-obsessed mother whose parenting is limited to hiring maids and nannies to look after her son. Eleanor (Leighton Meester) has just broken up with her disloyal slacker boyfriend and moved out of his place. When he throws a tantrum at her place of work she ends up getting fired. With no place to stay and no job, Eleanor ends up landing the job of Reggie’s new live-in nanny. An unlikely friendship starts blossoming between Eleanor and Reggie.
Leighton Meester delivers a beautifully touching performance as Eleanor. I especially loved the emotionally vulnerable moments of Eleanor which Meester performed with heartbreaking conviction. Julian Shatkin is a real find as Reggie. A lesser performance would have caused the precocious pre-teen character of Reggie to come across as quite grating. But Shatkin succeeds in giving a fairly understated performance. Meester and Shatkin have really great chemistry together. As the whole film is about the relationship between their two characters, having good chemistry was of paramount importance.
Debra Messing and Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) have brief roles as Reggie’s mother and Eleanor’s ex-boyfriend respectively and both perform them in a rather broad manner. Armstrong in particular fares quite poorly with his performance coming across as amateurish.
Writer-Director Frank Whaley (also an acclaimed character actor) successfully crafts two characters engulfed in loneliness whose paths when converge end up having an indelible effect on both of them. Whaley presents the relationship between Eleanor and Reggie in a very gentle and warm way. There’s a great scene at a hotel where the two of them have a late-night conversation which beautifully solidifies their relationship. Whaley keeps the writing and direction very understated. There is some very subtle romantic subtext but as their relationship is presented with purity rather than provocation it works. The film never gets melodramatic and I appreciated that a lot. Quite a bit of stuff regarding Eleanor’s past is implied rather than being stated or talked about outright. I think it actually works as it prevents the story from falling into familiar tropes. Whaley also provides Reggie with an empathetic side which I really liked. The third act is a bit rushed; it needed some room to breathe.
Cinematographer Jimi Jones has framed some really nice shots. The beauty of the camerawork here lies in its simplicity. The music by Ed Harcourt is aptly melancholy.
I liked how the ending didn’t go the bittersweet way instead it was sad yet beautiful. Like Sunday, Like Rain is a tender character study about two lonely people and the loving relationship they end up sharing highlighted by Leighton Meester’s heartfelt performance.
My Rating: 7.5/10