STARRING: Carolyn McCormick, Ali Thomas, Betty Buckley, Jeff Daniels, Linda Hunt, Graham Greene

1992, 85 Minutes, Directed by: Gary Bennett

If you believe that abortion is murder, then it also implies that not only is the person performing an abortion a murderer, but also the woman having one. She would be either a murderer or an accomplice to murder. This is the inflexible logic behind the future America depicted in Rain Without Thunder, made in 1992, two years after that other feminist cautionary tale, The Handmaid's Tale.

Rain Without Thunder explores what the implications would be if fetuses were given the same rights as living human beings. In this case, a young girl is sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for kidnapping with intent to commit murder. In other words, she had an abortion in an overseas country! The film tells its story in the form of a documentary: there is a journalist going around interviewing all the people involved in the court case.

So far, so clever. But Rain Without Thunder soon begins to suffer from what many real, often mediocre, documentaries suffer from: it becomes a series of talking heads, with not a lot of action to sustain dramatic interest. Disappointing to science fiction fans, no real attempt is also made to recreate a future world of 2042's fashion or architecture - probably due to budget constraints.

Frustratingly the movie throws around a lot of interesting ideas without ever truly developing any of them. (Would it still be abortion if the fetus can be somehow removed after a few weeks and artificially be allowed to be born?) While trying to be fair minded on the abortion issue, Rain Without Thunder also can't escape what it really is, namely a piece of agitprop for the pro-abortion lobby. It finds itself preaching to the converted, while it should be trying to do some converting of its own.

"A piece of agitprop for the pro-abortion lobby . . ."

Talky, subdued and tasteful one often wishes for Rain Without Thunder to be more outrageous and provocative. It is ultimately correct in its assumptions: outlawing abortions will merely result in more back street abortions, which would be of mortal danger to women from lower income groups. This while the rich would simply have them in other countries.

Despite its faults, Rain Without Thunder does offer some pure sci-fi touches, good performances and interesting concepts. If you're interested in the topic you should try to see it.

Unfortunately it wasted many opportunities in that it could have been quite good instead of being ineffectual and ending rather abruptly. It still beats brainless shit like Fortress 2 hands down though and should make an excellent double bill along with Harrison Bergeron - another low budget movie set in a future right-wing America.

(By the way, the movie takes its title from a quote by Frederick Douglass that goes: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet avoid confrontation are people who want crops without ploughing up the ground . . . They want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its waters.")



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