Cinematic Releases: The Rainbow Experiment (2018) - Reviewed

What would you do if you were a parent and you got word that a terrible accident occurred at your child's school?  This is one of several questions pondered in The Rainbow Experiment.  Written and directed by Christina Kallas, this film revolves around a high school in New York where a student is terribly injured in a science class experiment, and the ensuing aftermath of the incident.  Over the course of its two-hour plus runtime, the film continues to grow, adding more and more characters comprised of students, teachers, parents, cops, administrators, etc.  Unfortunately, this increasing characters and plot lines only serve to muddle the story and confuse its audience.  

The title word "Experiment" is aptly used, as the film indeed plays out in experimental fashion, aspiring to mirror the works of filmmakers such as Lars Von Trier.  The camerawork is especially evocative of a Von Trier type of film, taking on a pseudo-documentary feel, while also employing the use of various types of split-screen.  This technique is clearly necessary for a film that ends up introducing over thirty characters, all with various intersecting plotlines.  Therein lies the biggest problem for me.  It seems to me that the aspirations for this film got a little too out of hand, as it attempts to do several things at once.  Like I said, this is an experimental film, but it ended up feeling too experimental while also feeling too amateurish.  

The majority of the actors felt like they were acting, rather than embodying real flesh and blood people.  I definitely noticed much more with the "adult" characters comprising of parents, cops, etc.  Perhaps this was intentional, as part of the experimental element of the film, but I honestly doubt that.  To me, it was just distracting.  Oddly enough, I think the best acting in the film came from the high school students, many of who did succeed at providing some sense of depth to their characters as well as their respective struggles.  

The concept for The Rainbow Experiment had an interesting concept, opening up with a horrific accident, and then throughout the film, slowly unraveling the details of how it occurred, and perhaps making us question the real causes behind it, as well as showcasing how all the adults ultimately reacted to the situation.  It's a great example of how children can become adults, and adults can end up becoming children.  I just wish that the movie had a tighter script, maybe getting rid of or combining some of the characters, thus providing a more comprehensible story.  Overall, this film felt like it could have used some more polish.  I should make it clear this doesn't mean I don't have an appreciation for experimental cinema.  I have tremendous respect for filmmakers who are constantly pushing the boundaries, trying new things.  This is what makes cinema great, and what keeps it relevant.  I just wish The Rainbow Experiment could have found a way to combine its experimental nature with a little more finesse.

--Derek Miranda