Sundance 2021 ‘The Pink Cloud’ Review: Rose-Tinted Desolation

Sundance Film Festival

In a synthy narrative that feels a bit too prophetically similar to our present world, Giovana (Renata de Lélis) and Yago (Eduardo Mendonça) are forced into joint isolation when a deadly pink cloud drifts over the skies of their city. It kills in ten seconds upon contact and remains an altogether unsolvable mystery. The pair had only just met the night before, yet find themselves unavoidably and intimately entangled as the world sinks into a permanent quarantine.  

They fall in and out of love over and over, unsure of their footing in such strange circumstances. Getting to know each other is a complicated task. Eventually, Giovana succumbs to Yago and his wishes for family, becoming pregnant with the hope that a child between them might soothe the aches and provide new companionship. It hurts, that that obligation was something she felt she had no escape from, regardless of how much comfort having a child and family might bring her. 

Everything is dipped in a candy-colored pink that becomes so sour and oppressive that I wanted to mash the color beneath my feet and put it through a paper shredder. Giovana seems to feel the same, her hatred of the cloud and everything it caused bubbles quietly in her veins and chips away at any measure of happiness she feels. She becomes a sunken husk of a person, while Yago turns the cloud and its color into some strange religion, reverently holding a pink twist of yarn in his hands as though it is some sacred artifact. He whispers prayers as the cloud passes by their window, pink refracting across his skin, and Giovana slowly starves herself. Everyone seems to cope differently. Giovana watches a man throw himself from a balcony and pours over videos of deadly fights in supermarkets, where some have been trapped all this time. Her sister, Julia (Helena Becker), lives in an endless sleepover with her friends and one of their fathers, crying on video calls over the things she knows she is missing while a friend of Giovana, Sara (Kaya Rodrigues), contemplates suicide and laments over her past where she was surrounded by her students rather than terribly alone. 

Though this is a film of impressive visuals, the performances are what shine most brightly. Renata de Lélis, in particular, is brilliant and entirely heartbreaking. The chemistry between de Lélis and Mendonça is perfectly fraught, their frustrations and adoration for each other so dynamically expressed. The film is highly emotional and especially difficult because it is an extrapolation of an already familiar feeling and scenario. As fantastical as a bright pink cloud of poison and death may be, such experiences of loneliness, solitude, depression, and disjointedness are incredibly relevant. The pacing is frustratingly slow sometimes, but it only adds to how we feel connected to their visceral experience. 

Director Iuli Gerbase does a magnificent job of expressing such agony and hopelessness and pain, particularly with the ending of the film which is both revelatory and completely fucked-up. The Pink Cloud is a marvelous exploration of the ways in which isolation wreaks havoc upon our souls and the fabric of our lives. 

Jenna Kalishman

BA in English and film studies. Early English literature as well as fantasy and sci-fi fanatic. Bylines include Lithium Magazine, Hey Alma, and Flip Screened. @jenkalish on socials.

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