The experience of attending college, moving onto campus, and living away from home, without a safety net can be an unsettling event. Imagine what that experience would be like if your son or daughter has the added challenge of being diagnosed with ADHD, OCD, and bipolar disorder. Writer-director Aaron Fisher’s terrific semi-autobiographical film, “Inside the Rain,” chronicles his journey navigating the college terrain. I applaud Fisher for chronicling his 10-year journey by creating an audacious film that educates others about bipolar disorder—and, he’s unquestionably shining a spotlight on the topic— thanks to his raw, organic, personal script.
Fortunately, Fisher has supportive parents that helped fund his film. They serve as a positive role model in helping their son fulfill his dream. Were they exasperated and fatigued at times? Yes, absolutely, the film captures their experiences as well. I have taught nine and 10-year old children, gifted literature for over 20 years, which included students with ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome. I recognize the behaviors of Benjamin Glass, as illustrated by Aaron Fisher, along with the teachers’ and parents’ frustrations and encouragement. The casting of Rosie Perez as Dr. Holloway, as the no-nonsense, yet compassionate psychologist garners an impressive performance. The solid, excellent performance by Eric Roberts, as the down-on-his-luck movie producer, Monty, provides the comedic relief and kind-hearted card.
The film begins in a college classroom as film student Benjamin Glass talks about his diagnoses – he prefers the term “recklessly extravagant”— he’s forever determined to justify his actions. When a misunderstanding threatens to expel him from college, Glass insists on recreating the incident on video, with the help of an aspiring actor and sex worker played by (Ellen Toland), to clear his name. Ben’s parents want him to transfer to another college and move on. Ben sees it differently; he insists the occurrence was a mistake and becomes relentless in proving his innocence.
For starters, how is he going to raise the $5,500 to produce the film? How will he control his extravagance long enough to win his friends’ confidence, and how will he win over ‘the girl of his dreams?’ With an ode to Ben Braddock from “The Graduate,”— Fisher’s favorite film — we view an underdog story about believing in yourself and carving out your own future.
“Inside the Rain” changes tone erratically between comedy and drama, although the uneven rhythm plays beautifully as a replication of Ben’s manic and depressive states. The film does create empathy for Ben and gives a realistic lens to what it’s actually like to live with a bipolar personality. As far as Fisher’s performance, he presents a crystal-clear depiction into the psyche of his condition’s inherent behavioral mannerism. He’s true-to-form, no-filter, with a one-track mind, and a blunt demeanor. We also view his inadequacy in navigating the bureaucracy that’s in place to protect him.
“Inside the Rain” does have loose ends that need closure, and is a bit slow in a few parts, but in the end, it won me over by the overwhelming effort by Aaron Fischer to document his life struggles. I applaud his courage, tenacity, and resourcefulness not only to write, direct and star in the film but to put himself ‘out there’ in hopes of helping himself and others to understand his challenging condition.
Sarah Knight Adamson© May 16, 2020