Pandemic films are a difficult sell in our current climate; mostly because it begs the question: who wants to watch a film that’s basically a reflection of the past year? Some have tried, and failed – I’m looking at you Songbird and Locked Down. It seemed that attempting to tackle the subject matter wasn’t something that could be easily done, and would require a script that felt genuine and authentic without overwhelming oneself. Well, thanks to luli Gerbase, we don’t need any more pandemic films! The Pink Cloud is the only quarantine film we’ll ever need.
There’s a funny little note at the opening of the film, letting the audience know the awkward coincidence in which Gerbase’s quarantine film would be shown off during an actual global pandemic. It dictates that Gerbase isn’t trying to reflect our current situation, and thus her work needn’t be compared to it. That being said, there are some surprisingly prophetic parallels in both Giovana and Yago’s (the film’s central romantic duo) behaviours and routines that could label Gerbase as a quasi-prophet of the pandemic times.
Gerbase knows her world well, and feeds the viewer piece-by-piece, as we learn how their world has gradually adapted to the titular pink cloud. From online dating apps, to life coaches and conspiracy theorists — these details are a great support to the film’s central theme of connection. Either social, romantic, or familiar — The Pink Cloud expresses a truth we’ve come to know very well; the importance of connection in retaining our ourselves and our identity, but also simultaneously enjoying life itself.
Although the clearest comparison is the pandemic, it could be said that The Pink Cloud tackles the monotony of life and the fear of boredom in relationships; as Giovana and Yago continually attempt to reinvent themselves and one another amidst growing resentment. Their reactions of life and reinventions between themselves are a brilliant comedic flex. The viewer finds themselves getting caught up in their fantasies as they really go all out with the creativity, burying themselves into their specific roleplay. This feeling of existential boredom is something of a universal truth today, as many repeatedly reinvented themselves, trying out new hobbies and pursuits. It’s what really give Giovana and Yago their depth as 3-dimensional characters, as we witness them trying to metaphorically escape themselves in the desperation for new connection. The film shifts its tones carefully with a delicate balancing act, so that all of its comedic timing never treads on the unsettling and vice versa. The soundtrack is Gerbase’s greatest weapon, as the eerie trilling really provoke a sense of the off-kilter whilst retaining a dream-like quality.
Both leads are brilliantly cast, with some volatile chemistry that seems to constantly bubble, as though either could explode at any moment — Renata de Lélis steals the show. She carries the bubbling resentment toward Yago, alongside her anxieties of the world for both herself and her son, Lino. Giovana constantly re-forms herself as we get a glimpse into her life at different points of her confinement, as she gradually becomes a shell of the woman we were introduced to at the beginning. Renata’s performance creates a natural gravitation toward Giovana, partially for her own struggle to come to terms with her new-found life — but additionally understanding the life she lives is one she outright rejected initially. She’s an immensely complex character through her subtle emotional shifts. The latter third of the film hosts some of the strongest and most visceral confrontations featured throughout its 100 minute runtime, as Giovana battles with Lino over their concept of what even is ‘real’ anymore, and Lino’s specific vision of the world compared to what Giovana is aware they have lost.
It’s a beautifully crafted film that comments on the loneliness of being unable to connect, and provides a multiplicity of readings into the complicated relationships of its two protagonists to both themselves, each other, and the world around them. The Pink Cloud is delightful in its poignancy for human connection, and establishes Iuli Gerbase as a director to watch.
The Pink Cloud screened at this year’s 47th Seattle International Film Festival.