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Sundance 2021 Review: 'The Pink Cloud' is a human look at true isolation

Stay inside.

Renata de Lélis as Giovanna in The Pink Cloud.
(Image: © Courtesy of the Sundance Institute)

Our Verdict

Some major turn offs in the third act aside, 'The Pink Cloud' is a capable and relatable look at isolation.

For

  • 📅A stylish look at isolation.
  • 📅Very human performances from the two leads.
  • 📅Plays well in its own world, and expands on the helplessness of being stuck inside.

Against

  • 📅Not wanting children is valid on a good day. It's even more so when the world is ending?
  • 📅There might be a conspiracy at play here, but it's never really fleshed out.

The Pink Cloud is part of our Sundance Film Festival 2021 coverage. You can find all of our reviews here.

So, say you meet someone at a party and hit it off. Hook ups ensue, and you wake up the next morning “comfortably” snoozing away in a hammock. Then an alarm goes off. Telecommunications are telling you to get outside and lock all the windows and doors because people are dropping dead outside. Frantically, you do as your told with the help of last night’s one-night stand. Therein lies the first ten minutes of The Pink Cloud.

The film’s leads, Giovanna (Renata de Lélis) and Yago (Eduardo Menonça), laugh it off at first. It’s no big deal! The government will find the solution to the strange pink cloud that’s picking citizens off in no time. But then the government doesn’t, and the two have to come to terms with the fact that they’ll be stuck with one another for an indeterminate amount of time.

While it might seem like another entry into the long list of COVID-related films we’re doomed to have thrown at us in the future, there’s something different at play in The Pink Cloud. Because of the nature of the toxin, no one can leave their homes at all. Folks who were on the street at the time it manifested were forced to retreat into the nearest building regardless of what it housed, kids at birthday parties can’t go home, and terminally ill parents have no access to the care that they need. Food and medication supply even come into question until the government is able to install tubes to deliver basic needs to the populace.

The Pink Cloud plays very successfully in the world writer and director Iuli Gerbase has created. The scenarios that come of the complete isolation of it all each hit in different ways, while Giovanna and Yago give the viewer impactful looks at the human response to such a trauma. Laughs turn to tears, tears turn to rage, and rage turns into depression. Then the cycle repeats. There is no reprieve from their cage, only the opportunity to make the best out of a horrific situation.

Gerbase’s feature debut is an impressive one, but I can’t help but feel that the writer/director hates her female lead in this film. Make no mistake, both of these characters are flawed. But the way The Pink Cloud treats Giovanna—particularly her bodily autonomy and her lack of desire to ever have a child—like some kind of selfish monster is extremely apparent. Even worse, we see the character give in with no real commentary on her change of heart, and then villainized for responding to the child in the exact way she said she would. Conversations about the complete idiocy of bringing a baby into such a situation aside, the way the film treats Giovanna is a huge turnoff.

That major complaint in mind, The Pink Cloud is a visually attractive character study on the human response. Folks feeling claustrophobic in isolation might find it a little jarring, but it does help remind of the little freedoms like the ability to open our doors and breath fresh air. It'll even give conspiracy theorists a couple of things to chew on!