HEAVEN'S RAIN Based on the true story of the murders of co-screenwriter Brooks Douglas' parents, Heaven's Rain kicks off inside an idyllic dream in which two tow-haired children, a boy and a girl, play beneath sheets flapping on a clothesline as their mother beams at them. The idealization that can take place in dreams and memories spills over to the film's "real time" in both the conceptualization and the filming of characters, so that while Heaven's Rain is well-acted by its leads, it's also flat. The boy, Brooks (Mike Vogel), grows up to be a sensitive, golden-boy senator who fights for victims' rights; his single-mindedness of purpose unravels every other aspect of his life, eventually and ironically almost leading him to ruin. His sister, Leslie (Taryn Manning), more spiritually weathered, simply wants to put the past behind her. As Brooks' life collapses around him, the film doles out flashback sequences that serve as heavy-handed exposition and foreshadowing, with the real-life Brooks Douglas playing his Baptist minister/missionary father. The film, directed and co-written by Paul Brown, is clearly heartfelt, and the performances by Vogel and Manning are fantastic, shading in characters that are too one-dimensional in the writing. But ultimately Heaven's Rain is too lightweight to earn either the tears or the uplift it's meant to evoke. (Ernest Hardy) (Laemmles Fallbrook)
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