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The Scent of Rain & Lightning (2017)

Based on the novel THE SCENT OF RAIN & LIGHTNING by Nancy Pickard. When a young woman learns her parents' killer has been released from jail, she is forced to revisit old wounds while ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Sheriff Don Phelps
Byron George
Young Collin Croyle
Courtroom Observer


Based on the novel THE SCENT OF RAIN & LIGHTNING by Nancy Pickard. When a young woman learns her parents' killer has been released from jail, she is forced to revisit old wounds while discovering the destructive power of hate and the true cost of family secrets fully revealing themselves.

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Drama | Mystery | Western



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2017 (USA)  »

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The Scent of Rain & Lightning  »

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1 April 2017 | by See all my reviews

I saw this at the Cleveland Film Festival yesterday and was disappointed with it. In the first scene you see a young woman, Jody Linder, in bed with a guy in the second floor bedroom of a nice old house when pickup trucks pull up outside the house. The men in the pickup trucks are her older male relatives who warn her that the man who was convicted of killing her parents has been released from prison. Why Jody is living in this house clearly decorated in a style a much older person would have chosen or what she does for a living are never revealed. The oldest of the men who arrive at the house is her grandfather and the owner of a ranch that employs most of the characters in the movie, including the guy Jody was sleeping with. Shortly thereafter, she is confronted by the son of the convicted killer who tells her he knew that his father never left the house during the time of the murder but that he lied to the police by telling them he wasn't sure because he wanted his father to go to prison. Though she isn't receptive to hearing what the son has to say, Jody begins to question the verdict and for the rest of the movie she pursues the truth about her parents' murder.

I wish there had been more exposition at the beginning to give the audience an idea of Jody's normal life and her relationship to her grandparents, relatives and ranch employees before she's given the news about the release of the convicted killer. I couldn't keep track of the characters, many of whom wore hats and had lots of facial hair. If there had been more scenes at the beginning showing their individual personalities it would have been easier to keep track of who's who.

Another problem I had with the film is the unnecessary sepia filter that gives the entire film a dreary look and hides some the distinguishing characteristics of some of the similar looking characters. The sepia look might have been OK for the events from the past if they were from a long time ago but they appear to be less than 10 years prior, maybe as few as 6 or 7 based on the appearance of some of the characters.

Towards the end of the movie someone is shot in a bedroom of a house and Jody arrives at the bed of this person who has just been shot and tells him/her to hang on but I didn't know who it was because the director wouldn't clearly show their face. I never figured out who that was (I don't think it mattered much) and that wasn't the only confusing scene. There were a number of scenes that caused me to ask the people beside me, "who's that?". Pay close attention to the physical characteristics of the men in the film if you decide to watch it and you may find the film more satisfying than I did.

I believe I know how Jody's parents actually were killed and by whom and it wasn't interesting or satisfying because the characters hadn't been developed well enough for me to care, which I believe is the main problem with the film.

Prior to the film, the director asked the audience how many people were seeing it for the second time. No one raised their hand. He then asked if anyone was at the screening who talked to someone who had seen a previous screening and a couple people raised their hand. This is NOT the kind of film that people are going to watch over and over to figure out what's going on. The director had the opportunity to make the storytelling more coherent and spend more time on character development but he chose not to and there's no payoff for the audience to justify that decision.

I kept waiting for Bonnie Bedelia to have a big scene but it never happened. Maika Monroe is bland in the lead role unfortunately.

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