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'Three Days of Rain'
(Peter Falk, Don Meredith, Michael Santoro, Erick Avari, et al / DVD / NR / 2007 / Maximon Pictures)

Overview: 'Three Days of Rain' is a compelling and thought provoking feature film inspired by six short stories from the great 19th century Russian writer, Anton Chekhov. Writer and Director Michael Meredith skillfully interweaves and adapts Chekhov’s masterpieces to tell the stories of a handful or ordinary residents in Cleveland, Ohio. The challenges life throws at them become even more difficult as they grapple with a three day rainstorm.

DVD Verdict: 'Three Days of Rain,' a drama of semi-intertwined vignettes about a half-dozen or so depressed people living in Cleveland, hardly screams at you that it might just work as a visual treat on a hot summer's afternoon. But, taken in the right context, and viewed under the right circumstances, 'Three Days of Rain' can work for you ... if you allow it to. The film is written and directed by UT and Longhorn football alum Michael Meredith, who also further claims that it is based on the short stories of one Anton Chekhov.

Unfolding on the canvas of a wet, weary, tired, gray Cleveland, accompanied by the melancholy soundtrack of a jazz radio station whose DJ (Lyle Lovett) serves as a sort of poetic, one-man Greek Chorus, the film spits forth its quiet little tragedies in abundance.

On tap we have John (ex-football great and director’s father, Don Meredith) who suffers through several lonely and gloomy nights driving his cab, even after learning that his son has just died days earlier. Not that any of his continual fares give a rats ass! Then there's Jen (Maggie Walker) who's apparently not very good at ... anything! Jen and her jovial (and successful) husband Alex (Erick Avari) are out for a night on the town, but when a homeless war veteran asks them for food on their walk home, Jen coldly resists Alex’ efforts to share their leftovers, sending the vet skulking off in the rain.

When it comes to Waldo (Peter Falk) things don't get much beter! Sure he's a likeable guy, but he's also a hopeless, manipulative alcoholic who’s mooching off his enabling son Michael (Bill Stockton). Thunder (Michael Santoro) is a frustrated tile maker whose life is almost as simplistic and focused as Waldo’s desire for a drink. In fact, he wants only two things: for the rain to stop leaking into his apartment and to get paid for his last job so that he can buy supplies for his next one.

Tess (Merle Kennedy), a struggling heroin addict, gets paid by babysitting for a wealthy judge and his wife. Not a bad gig, except that the judge expects her to perform services other than those having to do with child care! Finally, there’s Dennis (Joey Bilow), a mentally-challenged railroad station janitor with a seemingly childlike innocence all his own ... but after a lay-off imminent has revenge in the forefront of his mind.

Sure the title lets us know what we’re in for, and sure some of the performances are somewhat uneven, and sure some of the film’s most memorable moments come from brief cameos delivered by Blythe Danner, Jason Patric, and underground filmmaker George Kuchar (as a newspaper vendor), but as a filmmaker, Meredith has a strong, if derivative, visual sense tha shines through just when it needs to.

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