Aaron Fisher wrote, directed and stars in a pretty convincing portrait of manic depression in “Inside the Rain,” a “finding yourself/finding love” romance staggered by cliches and delusional missteps.
The director Fisher gives the actor Fisher places to shine. The screenwriter Fisher doesn’t provide enough of those places, or share enough of them with the supporting cast.
We meet Ben Glass, 25, as he starts college. He’s on a lot of meds. He’s had a lot of problems. He sees a shrink (Rosie Perez, testy and adorable) regularly. And he’s in the habit of augmenting his meds with vodka-energy drink cocktails to take the edge off.
First day in film class is how we learn he is “literally bi-polar.” “ADHD, OCD, borderline personality disorder…You name it, I have it.”
His self-description to his classmate, Daisy (Katie Claire McGrath) is what gets him into trouble. His illness makes him “recklessly extravagant.” That’s all it takes for her to ignore his “on the spectrum” weirdness, his resting-mental-case-face and his tank-top oriented wardrobe and sleep with him.
Her “You need to go now” post-coitus sends himself into a tailspin — a suicide attempt. He guilts her in the process, she over-reacts (not really) and the school is ready to kick him out.
“I’m going to make a movie to show what REALLY happened!”
If you’re saying “How lame is that?” you’re not alone. But the student filmmaker making a movie about his struggles element is mostly-consigned to the frustrations of fund-raising, the odd cameo of “a Hollywood producer” low-life (Eric Roberts) who is friends with his Dad (Paul Schulze), and casting.
Ben wants this “model” who serves as a literal sushi bar — they serve fish on her naked (fig leaves) body — at the local strip club to star in his film. Emma (Ellen Toland of “The Chaperone”) just wants “somebody to take me seriously.”
Ben and Emma hang out, try to crowdfund his movie and cope with his mood swings. He’s hellbent on fighting this college disciplinary thing, refusing to take his meds if Dad doesn’t hire him a lawyer, hellbent on making this movie, determined to use his paintball team as his crew.
Fisher’s scenes with Perez are the ones with the pop to them — feisty, light-hearted exchanges with her promising to “cure you within six weeks” (No psychiatrist would EVER say that.), him nursing delusional depression or manic “highs” where “I’m THE MAN” applies to paintball, movie-making or dating a model/stripper WAY out of his league.
Ben’s confession that “I SHOULD feel sorry for myself,” his “This happens a lot, honestly” to the young woman he texted his suicide note to, even his turning on his phone to play Emma a song as he walks her to her car, all feel like real moments trapped in a movie that can’t quite get out of its own way.
Toland, Perez, Roberts and Schulze are the most polished performers here. Fisher, being unknown, has an amateurish authenticity that works in the character’s favor if not the story’s.
The trite — Roberts’ cameo is pointless, the paintball thing is straight out of “The Big Bang Theory” — overwhelms what could be interesting in this scattered romantic dramedy that takes a Bob Dylan lyric from “Just Like a Woman” as its title.
And all that title does is highlight how much more on-the-money the soundtrack is than the movie it underscores.
MPAA Rating: unrated, sex, nudity, profanity, substance abuse
Cast: Aaron Fisher, Ellen Toland, Catherine Curtin, Paul Schulze, Rita Raider, Eric Roberts and Rosie Perez.
Credits: Written and directed by Aaron Fisher. An Act 13 release.
Running time: 1:30