Rainbow is one of the most misguided and convoluted films in recent memory.
This review of the Netflix film Rainbow (2022) does not contain spoilers.
The Spanish Netflix film Rainbow is being labeled as a modern retelling of L. Frank Braum’s classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Viewed through a contemporary LGBTQ+ lens, the story follows Dora (played by Dora Postigo) and her cairn terrier, Toto. Dora is being raised by a single parent, her father, Diego (Hovik Keuchkerian), who has ordered a cake for her birthday. The thing is, Dora has always heard the whispers around town, including today when picking up that decadent chocolate cake. “She looks just like her mother, but not her father,” are the whispers. And when Dora asks her father about a memory she had as a child, the truth comes spilling out. Dora cannot handle it and sets out to find her mother, Piral.
Our Dora leaves, meeting new and interesting characters. Although, with no rhyme, reason, or even common sense, mind you, of why or how she walks into various scenes. Dora meets three witches. One turns out to be her grandmother, Maribel (Carmen Machi), who had Piral, and Dora wants to know where to find her. Coco is there, Maribel’s lover and who is married to the richest man in Captial City. He just so happens to be in a coma. Coco wants Maribel to pull the plug because, apparently, that’s love. Of course, she refuses.
No matter, because the man dies, which everyone is excited about. However, when Coco pulls a gun on Maribel, the reasons being unclear, Dora tries to stop her. Coco, though, lets some hot lead off and puts a hole in her dead husband’s head. This is a predicament because no one was notified of the man’s passing a few minutes before. Now it looks like, to outsiders, they have a murder on their hands. So, Coco points the finger at Dora, and now she is on the run.
With a script from Enemy scribe Javier Gullón, I’ll admit that I was excited about the prospects of Rainbow. There are dozens of scenes that stung together that make little sense, and the transitions make you think there must have an issue with poor editing. For instance, when Dora leaves to find her mother, there is no explanation of why she ends up at a house full of witches. Nor do we know her mother even lived there. In fact, Diego even told Dora he had no idea how to find her.
The script also alternates, intending to create sequences that may be real or dream-like, similar to Wizard of Oz, but never can accomplish this simple structured goal. The does not allow even the possibility of the viewer leaving the story up to their own interpretation. The homage to the source material is obvious when Dora encounters Muneco (Ayax Pedrosa), a manic drug addict who represents the Scarecrow.
Then there is Jose (Luis Bermejo), a man who has lost hope, dressed in a grey suit, and traveling in a silver car, who is suicidal. Finally, there is Akin, a gay singer whose family rejects him because of his homosexuality. However, he is hardly cowardly, and his strength is that of a lion. Does it all work? A bit, but these themes of LGBTQ+ community or mental health with any resonance or pay off.
I’m sure director Paco León had grand ambitions of reforming a tale into modern social issues and folding it into a coming-of-age story with some real heft. However, as the film continues, the narrative becomes one of the most misguided and convoluted films in recent memory. Rainbow, besides a visually splendid scene of Michael Jackson riding casting ray the size of the Falkor in The Never Ending Story, León’s film is a massive disappointment.
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