“Inside the Rain” begins as a kind of college caper, although in an unusual location: the student disabilities office. Ben Glass (played by the film’s writer and director Aaron Fisher) is a 20-something film major with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, A.D.H.D., O.C.D. and a host of other conditions.
This is Ben’s second attempt at college, but it soon goes awry: romantic disappointments end in self-harm, and a misunderstanding threatens to get him expelled. Determined to vindicate himself and stay in school, Ben enlists the help of an aspiring actress and sex worker, Emma (Ellen Toland), to make a short film about his ordeal.
Based on Fisher’s own life experiences, “Inside the Rain” switches erratically between comedy and drama while juggling many half-realized plot threads. But the movie’s strange, inconsistent rhythm ultimately works as a reflection of Ben’s manic and depressive states. Fisher’s performance is disarmingly blunt and deadpan, offering an up-close portrait of mental illness as a banal reality (which often involves negotiations with ill-equipped bureaucracy), rather than the stuff of horror or caricature.
If “Inside the Rain” transcends clichés in this regard, it succumbs to them in others, especially its portrayal of women. Emma, whom Ben meets when he defends her from lascivious men outside a strip club, is the classic Hooker With a Heart of Gold. She has no compelling qualities outside of her sensuousness and her desire to help Ben. Rosie Perez also gets short shrift as a smack-talking psychiatrist, the actor’s earnest charm undercut — as is the case with many of the film’s performers, Fisher included — by a weak script.
Inside the Rain
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.