Review: Inner life of bipolar college student remains elusive in 'Inside the Rain'

Michael Ordoña
Aaron Fisher in the movie "Inside the Rain."  (Act 13)

There are enough telling details in “Inside the Rain” — little failures, jars of coins, specific prescriptions, repeated bits of dialogue — to give the film a ring of truth. But there’s little beyond that echo.

“Inside” concerns a troubled college student’s quixotic quest to clear his name after he’s mistakenly thought to have attempted suicide (again), leading to his expulsion. Ben (Aaron Fisher) has a litany of issues, starting with bipolar disorder. He’s delusional, manic, obsessive, childish and stubbornly uninterested in other people — yet gorgeous women are attracted to him. He recruits sex worker Emma (Ellen Toland) for a movie meant to argue his case to stay in school.

Fisher has said the character is loosely based on himself: He wrote, directed and co-edited the film, which ends up feeling quite like we'd imagine Ben’s project to be.

Unfortunately, the storytelling never rises above Ben’s flat delivery. Perhaps the title is meant to imply a view from within the storm that is Ben’s psyche, but the film provides little insight into its every-scene protagonist — though its stumbling ebbs and flows do imply his mood swings. It’s not a requirement we root for a lead, but it would help if we weren’t so put off by his behavior and lack of interest in others that we’re at least interested in his struggle.

Matters aren’t helped by an aggressive surf-rock score. The music would be fine in another context, but here is used so incongruously as to call unflattering attention to itself.

One suspects “Inside the Rain” is a labor of love. One wishes its makers would have let us in enough to love it as well.