Grassroots movie casts a Whidbey-esque spell

  • Robert Horton / Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, March 29, 2007 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

The do-it-yourself philosophy of modern low-budget moviemaking is getting a tryout this weekend on Whidbey Island, where a new feature-length film premieres Saturday night.

The movie is “Shadow of Rain,” written and directed by Richard Evans. It’s playing twice on Saturday evening at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley.

And this is only fitting, because the production uses Whidbey Island locations and talent. Along with some scenes set in Seattle, the misty skies and gray-green landscapes of the island create the bulk of the film’s mood.

Richard Evans is an experienced Hollywood actor whose career goes back to the late 1950s. He guest-starred on just about every 1960s TV series you can name, and was a regular in the cast of “Peyton Place,” alongside Mia Farrow and Ryan O’Neal.

In recent years, he has turned to directing, in theater and the previous feature “Harry Monument.” For “Shadow of Rain,” Evans cast himself in a supporting role as well as calling the shots behind the camera.

The movie is a free-flowing look at the disintegration of an unhappy marriage between an irresponsible musician (Dave Draper) and a woman (Cynthia Campbell) ready to get away from him.

She flees to a friend’s place on the island, where, amidst the solitude and slower pace, she meets a couple of offbeat neighbors (Ken Church and Evans) who have stories to tell. However, the out-of-control musician won’t go away, even after it seems he may have taken the ultimate journey via a missing boat and an open patch of water.

Some of the plot must be pieced together based on faith, because “Shadow of Rain” isn’t interested in plugging in the holes or following a logical pattern. Evans seems to want to create a dreamlike kind of flow to the thing.

The affordability of video cameras makes this kind of handmade project possible, but it also means the results are bound by the flatness of video, no matter how well the movie is shot.

If the performances are a decidedly mixed bag, Evans has an ace up his sleeve with leading lady Cynthia Campbell, who resembles a somewhat earthier version of Lauren Hutton. She’s got a face made to be photographed, and a gravity that carries her character through some bizarre twists and turns.

You can experience grassroots filmmaking at its rootsiest level Saturday in Langley – and find out whether Whidbey is the new Hollywood.

Cynthia Campbell stars in “Shadow of Rain.”

Richard Evans is the director of “Shadow of Rain.”

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