Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A deadly phenomenon has spread across the world and has forced all of civilization into an extended quarantine. Brawls break out in grocery stores and online. Video chat becomes the center of human communication, welcoming everything from business meetings to birthdays. Many people find that their partners and children are the only souls they will keep company with over the next few months.
That’s the premise of “The Pink Cloud,” a Brazilian domestic drama with a sci-fi twist that, remarkably enough, was conceived in 2017 and filmed in 2019. Directed by newcomer Iuli Gerbase, it stars Renata de Lélis and Eduardo Mendonça as two in their thirties, Giovana and Yago, who have an overnight fling and wake up the next morning to find a mysterious pink cloud hanging over their city, killing anyone who breathes it for 10 seconds. The government orders a nationwide lockdown, and the two, alone together, are suddenly forced to reckon with a potential relationship.
Like other premonitory science fiction works, “The Pink Cloud” provides a bizarre funhouse mirror image of our current lives. FaceTime becomes the primary channel for social gatherings; citizens receive care packages provided by the government which feel insufficient; Giovana’s friend, trapped alone in her house, experiences symptoms of depression and yearning.
The pace of the film often matches this static feeling, to a frustrating degree. Even though the lockdown accelerates intimacy and conflict between the protagonists, their actions seem unimportant to the outside world. “The Pink Cloud” is most insightful when it recognizes this level of helplessness, as when a hopeful conclusion to disaster turns out to be a false alarm. Outside, the cloud floats, endless dissipation in sight.
The pink cloud
Rated R for nudity, brief language, and despondency related to the pandemic. In Portuguese and English, with subtitles. Duration: 1h45. In theaters.