“Inside the Rain,” which arrives on Amazon after a virus-truncated theatrical release, is a labor of love, a plea for understanding, and often a chore to sit through. The fact that this darkly comic drama about a college student with ADHD, OCD, bipolar and borderline personality disorders has been written and directed by and stars a filmmaker with those same disorders makes it something of a triumph. For a neurotypical viewer like myself (and perhaps you), it’s also a challenge, and one worth rising to.
Simply put, Ben Glass — and presumably Aaron Fisher, the man playing him — is/are exhausting if not irritating to be around. To its credit, “Inside the Rain” doesn’t sugarcoat this. But neither does it put us fully into its beleaguered hero’s head.
Fisher is big, gangly, with an aggressive edge; when he’s on a manic high, he can be brutally sardonic, and when he crashes, he crashes hard. His unbelievably patient new therapist, Dr. Holloway (Rosie Perez) tries to bring him down to earth after a misconstrued incident at Ben’s college has him on the verge of suspension and he decides to re-create events in his defense by making a movie.
Everyone thinks this is a simply terrible idea: Dr. Holloway, Ben’s kind, stressed-out parents (Paul Schulze and Catherine Curtin), his childhood friends on the paintball team. Their objections only set the hero’s jaw more firmly, and much of the discomfiting comedy of “Inside the Rain” comes from Ben’s increasingly driven pursuit of cinematic glory. That he’s urged on by a penniless movie producer (Eric Roberts) who lives in his mother’s garage is far-fetched but genuinely funny. That Ben would find a leading actress and possible lady love in a blandly beautiful stripper/escort/porn star named Emma (Ellen Toland) is — well, it’s ridiculous.
Not so much for the hooker-with-the-heart-of-gold cliché as for the fact that her character isn’t interesting enough to seem like a real person instead of a screenwriter’s fantasy, sometimes cringingly so. Aside from one charming scene where Ben walks Emma to her car while playing his favorite song on his cellphone — it swells up in his head and on the soundtrack as they go — we never believe she wouldn’t find him as off-putting as some of the other characters do (or as she finds most of the men the movie shows hitting on her).
Still, Fisher deserves praise for overcoming physical, financial, and neurological obstacles to get “Inside the Rain” made. And the movie gets credit for showing the struggles he and millions of others with similar disorders live with on a daily basis. They’re not pretty, but — aside from Emma — they’re real.
INSIDE THE RAIN
Written and directed by Aaron Fisher. Starring Aaron Fisher, Rosie Perez, Eric Roberts, Ellen Toland. Free on Amazon Prime, for rental on Amazon. 90 minutes. Unrated (as R: language, sexuality, brief nudity)