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Review: The Scent of Rain & Lightning

April 20, 2018

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

Adapted from crime novelist Nancy Pickard’s novel of the same name, The Scent of Rain & Lightning follows Jody Linder (Maika Monroe), a young women who finds out that Billy Croyle (Brad Carter), the man who was convicted of killing her parents (Maggie Grace and Justin Chatwin), had his sentence shortened and has been released from jail.

She plans to get revenge, but after confronting him and hearing rumours around town, Jody starts to question if he was even responsible for the murder, and starts investigating the case herself.  Enlisting the help of Billy’s son (Logan Miller), she ends up uncovering long-buried secrets, that reveal the extent of the chasm between both families.

The film unfolds through a mix of present day scenes and flashbacks that play directly beside each other, with a feeling of haziness blurring the lines between the two that can make it hard to tell which timeline we are in at any given time.  While this narrative structure is a somewhat ambitious thing for director Blake Robbins to attempt, it also makes the story feel needlessly convoluted and hard to follow, when this should have been a fairly straightforward whodunit mystery.  The criss-crossing way that the story is told actually kept me from getting fully invested in the characters, who are largely two-dimensional and never really developed as well as they should be.

Maika Monroe delivers another fine turn as the headstrong female protagonist, following her breakout roles in The Guest and It Follows, and Logan Miller – who was also so great in Love, Simon earlier this year – continues to prove himself as an extremely promising young talent with his brief supporting role here.  While the performances are generally solid, The Scent of Rain & Lightning is ultimately a grimy and messily told Midwestern crime drama, that tries to hide its clichés behind an overly convoluted narrative, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre.

The Scent of Rain & Lightning is now playing in limited release at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto.

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