There’s an eerie prescience to this alluring sci-fi chamber piece from Brazilian filmmaker Iuli Gerbase.
A particularly memorable first date opens The Pink Cloud: a man and a woman awake in a hammock after their hook-up the night before to the sound of sirens. A city-wide tanoy blares, announcing that everyone should take shelter in the nearest building and all windows and doors should be closed. If, at this moment of unknown threat, someone happened to be at the bakery or the supermarket, that is where they must stay.
Brazilian director Iuli Gerbase’s sharp and alluring debut offers a view of a world we’ve become all-too familiar with. Locked down in an apartment after their date, near strangers Yago (Eduardo Mendonça) and Giovana (Renata de Lélis) work from home, video call their loved ones, and have their necessities delivered to them.
Outside, a pink cloud hovers, illuminating the world in a soft, rose glow. Its warm hue and fluffy exterior disguise the horror it has suddenly inflicted on the world, a toxic gas that kills anyone exposed to it. Everyone has moved indoors for their safety, confined to the nearest space for an indeterminate length of time. ‘Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental,’ announces a title card at the beginning of the film.
Eerie prescience aside, Gerbase’s film is remarkably composed and the narrative well sustained for what is essentially a chamber piece. Time passes quickly in these circumstances as Giovana and Yago go through the motions of their burgeoning relationship. Frequent sex fades to boredom, life keeps on passing, and suddenly the couple have brought a child into this cloud-bound society. Giovana gives birth with a doctor present via webcam and their life spins forward again. Their son grows older, and the cloud lingers on.
The film is less concerned with the logic or meaning of the cloud itself than it is with Giovana and Yago’s respective philosophies of life and the ways in which these are tested in their isolation. In an early scene, Giovana explains her lack of desire to have children with all the parental duties and obligations that come with it. “If the cloud persists you won’t have to worry about any of those things,” Yago replies.
It’s a brief moment that encapsulates everything that will come to break down between them; Yago’s willingness to embrace the life the cloud has forced upon them meets Giovana’s resistance and frustration head on. Her later pregnancy, then, embodies the pressure placed upon her by this loss of liberty, the colour of the cloud a somewhat obtuse nod to femininity.
Mendonça and de Lélis give affecting performances, harmonised in a clear character structure that allows the narrative to move easily and convincingly. Their relational coherence balances well with the ambiguity Gerbase allows the film to mellow in, offering no concise answers to the problem of the cloud. As life goes on, Yago and Giovana’s innate differences become impassable.
The Pink Cloud is an assured first feature, confident in tone and adept in handling both a closed, interior drama and an expansive metaphysical conundrum.
Published 29 Jan 2021