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'Rain' turns into deluge of exploitation

April 16, 2004|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

One of last year's best pictures was Lukas Moodysson's "Lilya 4-ever," in which Oksana Akinshina played a Russian girl in the immediate post-Soviet era who is tricked into becoming a prostitute in Sweden.

"Lana's Rain" has a similar plot, and its star's first name is also Oksana, Oksana Orlenko, but the resemblance ends there.

It has all the passion, frenzy and violence of an Abel Ferrara film -- but without the vision, depth, style or control.

Doggedly lurid, sensational and so over the top that it verges on parody, it also stars Nickolai Stoilov as a criminal on the run who flees war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina in the '90s and ends up in Chicago with his sister (Orlenko).

Orlenko's naive Lana, who hasn't seen her brother in years, arrives with modest dreams of a better life, but Stoilov's fiery Darko wastes no time maneuvering her into prostitution and is soon lining up two more girls (Stephanie Childers and Stacey Slowik), both serious substance abusers, to work for him.

A gentle, aspiring sculptor (Louyong Wang) offers a fleeting ray of hope, but Lana is plunged into a life of nonstop brutality.

Lana's plight is all too credible, but writer-director Michael S. Ojeda's approach is so overheated that his film lapses -- by default if not design -- into a dreary exploitation of extreme violence toward women.

His film is so relentlessly shallow and excessive that it hardly matters whether Lana is eventually able to turn the tables on Darko.

When it rains in "Lana's Rain," it pours -- and what comes out is trash.


'Lana's Rain'

MPAA rating: Unrated

Times guidelines: Extreme violence, language, heavy drug use

Oksana Orlenko...Lana

Nickolai Stoilov...Darko

Louyong Wang...Julian

Stephanie Childers...Katrina

Stacey Slowik...Vermonica

An ISA release. Writer-director-editor Michael S. Ojeda. Producer Joel Goodman. Executive producer Jeffery Dillard. Cinematographer Gennadi Balitski. Music William Brown. Production designer Lorianne Olsen. Art director Michelle Caplan. Set decorator Merje Veski. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes.

Exclusively at the Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd. (at Fairfax Ave.), (323) 655-4010.

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