For many of us, we’ve had to get used to adapting to social distancing over the past year, with some having the ability to completely isolate away from others. With no real definitive timeline as to when we can go out regularly again, we’ve all had to deal with the impact of a lack of socialization and a stagnant routine. While we do not know the long-term implications of how the pandemic will impact those in social isolation, we can get a glimpse of a possible future from director Iuli Gerbase’s debut feature THE PINK CLOUD. While filmed prior to the events of COVID-19, the drama that unfolds onscreen will feel eerily familiar to many. And, while the plot lacks in forward momentum, there’s a timeliness that can’t be denied.
Giovana (Renata de Lélis) and Yago (Eduardo Mendonça) are strangers who hook up after meeting at a party. However, they wake up the next day to a global catastrophe that masquerades itself in pretty colors. Deadly pink clouds have mysteriously taken over the world, including their city. With announcements being made for everyone to barricade indoors, these two strangers find themselves forced to live with one another. As months and then years pass trapped inside, both have to come to terms with their new lives unable to move outdoors. With the onus of changes and emotional support being placed on Giovana’s shoulders, and with all social interactions taking place over screens, the strain of being indoors takes its toll. Both Giovana and Yago undergo a series of changes, both within their relationship, and within themselves, as they try to grapple with the long-term impact of this situation that is outside of their control if they want to survive.
Right off the bat, it’s difficult not to be completely taken in by the visuals in THE PINK CLOUD. With cool tones, particularly blues, contrasting against the pinks used to convey impending doom, the colors alone provide a beautiful tableau for the eyes. It lures the audience into a false sense of security, creating something almost cotton candy-like, a sugary sweetness that kills almost instantly. This color palette is maintained throughout the course of the film, creating a distinctive visual standard that easily contrasts against other pandemic films in the genre. And, due to the shots lined up by DP Bruno Polidoro, there are easily some memorable images from THE PINK CLOUD that will stay rooted in the viewer’s mind.
While the visuals were a clear standout, the acting conveyed by THE PINK CLOUD‘s two leads was superb. Renata de Lélis’s Giovana is a woman who initially starts off as wildly independent but, due to the circumstances forced upon her, over time we see her turn into a caretaker. Giovana takes on more emotional labor over the course of the film and, as isolation steadily takes its toll and with Yago not providing the support she needs, the viewer easily can feel her begin to cave in. Eduardo Mendonça’s Yago is a man that cares all too much, but loses his job as a result of the pink cloud’s impact. There’s a powerlessness that Mendonça injects into his portrayal, especially in Yago’s scenes with his steadily declining father. While neither characters are blameless in their actions throughout the film, both actors have created a necessary empathy out of their performances. Working in their favor is that the audience has lived through similar events in recent months.
Director Iuli Gerbase’s THE PINK CLOUD is a highly ambitious feature debut that, for the most part, has more favorable parts than not. While keeping the focus on the everyday lives of these characters and the people within their bubble, the audience gets a slice of life example of how people in a situation like this will develop over time. However, by focusing on the day-to-day, the plot itself suffers from a lack of forward momentum. At least, for this reviewer anyway. If the film itself is approached more as a character study rather than a plot-forward pandemic film, it would remove expectations for the viewer ahead of time. As a character study of how we’d react in forced isolation, THE PINK CLOUD works very well.
With stunning visuals and carefully constructed, multi-dimensional performances, THE PINK CLOUD has a timeliness that will carry forward long after our real-world pandemic ceases to be. While not necessarily horror-centric, given the events of the pandemic we are still currently living in, there’s an inherent horror that comes with self-isolation. How we would react to it, especially in the forced conditions we see in THE PINK CLOUD. With a pink cloud that everyone can actually see (versus our COVID-19), it puts more into perspective the danger of this seemingly harmless cloud. With that all said, this reviewer does caution horror fans reading this that this is not your typical pandemic film. At times, this film does feel like exactly what we’re living through now. If you’re expecting something with high-intensity, this film may not be for you, dear reader.
THE PINK CLOUD had its world premiere on January 29 at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.