Back in 2021 when “Rain Beau’s End” had its premiere on Lesflicks, they asked me to write a review. Even though I watched and made my notes, life intervened. As a result, this review has been on the back burner since. However, I must confess that part of the reason for the delay is that I dislike writing a review for films I didn’t actually enjoy. Writer/Producer Jennifer Cooney tackled a very specific and unique focus with “Rain Beau’s End” – and she took a cinematic gamble that is worth reviewing. But because of that gamble and a few other issues, I had a hard time connecting to the story even though it has charm and some great moments. So what are my issues with this queer film? Let’s break it down, shall we?
Synopsis of “Rain Beau’s End”
Progressive lesbian couple Hannah Driver and Jules Paradise adopt a child named Beau who is subsequently diagnosed with 47, XYY – which was believed at that time to make boys more prone to aggressive behavior (and has since been disproved). The couple ride the rough journey of Beau’s apparent behavioral issues, and how it not only affects his life and the small community they inhabit but markedly their relationship and their lives. As Beau gets older, and research of his condition grows, Hannah and Jules must face the reality of a self-fulfilling prophecy and the ghosts of their past.
As I alluded to earlier, I’m not a fan of “Rain Beau’s End” and there are a few key reasons for this. First of all, I had a very difficult time connecting & relating to the characters. Don’t get me wrong, both Janelle Snow and Amanda Powell are phenomenal as Hannah and Jules respectively. Hannah is the uptight attorney running for mayor; everything has to be perfect for her or else she starts to lose it. Meanwhile, Jules is carefree with a spiritual connection along with a drive to help others. Yet from the start, I did not buy that they were the perfect match. They say that opposites attract, but all I saw was the opposition and very little attraction between them – and they were adopting a child into the mix? Before we even meet Beau, I could see the drama unfold.
This brings me to the next reason I did not like this lesbian film. Writer/Producer Jennifer Cooney took a HUGE risk and made the decision that we, the audience, never get to see or connect to Beau – even though he’s the central connecting figure of the film! (There’s a very brief glimpse of a toddler early on, and we eventually do hear his voice towards the end, but that is it.) Everything happens around Beau; we see the effects Beau has on the lives of everyone – and they are not pretty. Bruises are revealed, everyone appears on edge when discussing Beau, there are reports of fights and bullying, and before long the cops are forced to get involved. Meanwhile, Hannah’s career falls into shambles, and the already present tension between her and Jules forces them even further apart. But among all of this, Beau is nowhere to be seen.
Now, there is a very good reason for this rather drastic stance. As we quickly learn, Beauregard has some problems, which are eventually diagnosed as 47, aka XYY. This is a genetic disposition where boys have an extra Y chromosome which results in learning disabilities, speech delay, low muscle tone, and even excess growth in height. Back in the 1990s when the plot “Rain Beau’s End” begins, very little was known about 47, XYY, or even the root cause of many behavioral issues. In fact, at the time, many felt that this extra Y chromosome created a genetic predisposition towards aggression. In fact, the therapist they end up seeing throughout the film, Dr. Christine Phelps portrayed by Andrea Salloum, remarks that this unique condition can precede Beau later in life – even before people actually meet him. And that is the crux of why we never see Beau – so that we are put into the same position of making assumptions before we “get to know him.”
While this is a rather intriguing tactic that does a great job of driving the drama of the plot as we progress through Beau’s life, I absolutely hate that Cooney chose this to be the key plot device of the film. Now, wait… why such hatred? Because most of the theories that posit XXY as causing an increased tendency toward aggression have been fully debunked. It’s “false science”, which is actually potentially harmful. Especially for anyone who misses that subtle yet key point where it’s debunked. (It’s noted toward the end of the film.) Frankly, the use of XYY in “Rain Beau’s End”, specifically how Conney uses it as the crux of her twenty-year plot, feels more like an exploitation of the genetic condition’s troublesome past rather than an honest approach to a real condition.
To be fair, I dislike when any writer uses a real disease or condition in the same or similar manner. Another example would be Tourette’s Syndrome – something I myself am diagnosed with, and a condition that includes a troubling stereotype. I’m sure you are already picturing me suddenly dropping the F-bomb mid-sentence. Unfortunately, your assumption would be completely WRONG. There are two forms of Tourette’s: verbal and motor. Verbal is the one you’re thinking of and it’s rather rare – even among those with Tourette’s. The majority of us diagnosed with Tourette’s, myself included, have motor tics – small, uncontrollable movements that you might not even notice as being “different”. Now, I freely acknowledge that having a condition with its own predetermined stereotype, akin to 47 aka XYY, gives me a biased vantage. But even acknowledging this, the use of incorrect data about a real condition in order to tell a story does not appeal to me at all.
The last issue I have with “Rain Beau’s End” is how the film is edited. The entire plot of the film is told over seven – yes, SEVEN! – different and distinct segments. Knowing that the film centers around Hannah and Jules raising a child, I expected there to be some skipping forward in time as Beau grows older. However, it’s how they handled the time jumps that didn’t sit right with me – and the excessive amount of jumps. They literally show a title card indicating Beau’s new age, and thus indicating how far forward the next section takes us. Overall, even though I understand that there are not many ways to properly handle a jump forward in time (let alone seven…), the end result felt choppy. Given that I didn’t have a strong connection with Hannah or Jules from the beginning, add in the fact that we never see Beau directly and thus are unable to connect with him, the time jumps lost any remaining chance for me to connect or even relate to the characters.
For as much as I dislike some of the key elements of “Rain Beau’s End”, there are some good aspects to point out. For starters, the acting is quite superb across the board! I may not see the connection between Hannah and Jules at the start, but both actresses do a great job bringing their characters to life. Even I have to admit that by the time we get to their love-making scene halfway through the film, my attitude toward their relationship remarkably improves. Heck, towards the end of the film, unfortunately after the true drama & tragedy strike, you can truly see their love for each other. Did we need to go through all of the drama with Beau’s condition of XYY before we got there? Perhaps not… but then we’d be watching a short instead of a feature film.
The rest of the ensemble cast is just as talented. Sean Young‘s portrayal of Nat adds a bit of light-hearted humor to balance out Hannah’s precise and even pedantic habits. There are even a few scenes where I saw a stronger connection between them over Hannah’s partner, Jules! And I cannot forget to mention Edward Asner‘s cameo appearance as Hannah’s father. Writer/Producer Jennifer Cooney remarked in an interview that she was thrilled to have been able to work with such a talented actor – and the two scenes with him are superb. Asner perfectly pulls off the grouchy old man who does not understand his daughter’s lesbian relationship or Beau’s XYY condition. Yet when he learns that Jules is safe, the sign of relief across his face speaks louder than any words could evoke at that moment. Altogether, the film was perfectly cast – even if I had issues connecting with some of the characters.
I cannot wrap up my review without addressing the rest of the cinematographic elements: the lighting, sound, set, etc. In short, there’s actually little to comment on – which is a good thing! There are a few interior scenes that I found to be a tad too dark, but the rest of the film had adequate lighting that I can overlook such a minor issue. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t remark on the artistic nature of how Director Tracy Wren frames her shots. The opening sequence is a prime example, showing short little vignettes that highlight each of them as we are slowly introduced to Hannah & Jules’ life. Nor can I overlook the incredible classical-based score orchestrated by Enzo De Rosa! His underscore music helps smooth the transitions between segments while also providing that extra element when it’s needed. With all of these elements coming together, the film itself is simply great!
After reading my full review, I’m sure it sounds like I’m suggesting that “Rain Beau’s End” is a lesbian film that is better skipped. That’s not entirely the case. Despite my dislike of some of the film’s key elements, other parts of the film are enjoyable. Additionally, there are many other reviewers who found the risky storytelling aspect of excluding Beau entirely to be commendable. In the end, the best way to determine if “Rain Beau’s End” is a film that YOU would enjoy watching is to simply go watch it yourself! At present, it’s only available to stream on Lesflicks – but they are a great VOD platform that centers on sapphic films, shorts, & series. Go check them out today – and watch “Rain Beau’s End”!
Queer Relevance of “Rain Beau’s End”
As with most of the films I review on Queer Film Reviews, there’s no doubt that “Rain Beau’s End ” is a queer film. In fact, it’s a lesbian film! (Yes, I am aware that I have a slight bias towards gay films … but I am working to change this to better represent the rest of the LGBTQ spectrum.) However, that’s not the main reason that “Rain Beau’s End” is a relevant queer film – and why I shall gladly continue to promote and share queer films. (Even when I dislike the film itself!)
Writer/Producer Jennifer Cooney sums it up best in an interview: “The release of Rain Beau’s End exclusively on Lesflicks could not be a prouder moment for me, as both a filmmaker and a lesbian. I remember a time in my life when I owned every lesbian film ever made on DVD — and the collection barely took up any space on my shelf. So, to have a film that I wrote and produced be distributed to the world via a platform dedicated to the sharing of lesbian films is a mind-blowing honor, not to mention a monumental leap towards a greater understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.”