The Brazilian lockdown drama “The Pink Cloud” can pretty much be reduced to the simplest mathematics of all.
How much credit do you give this film, finished in 2019, for “anticipating” the pandemic and what life under a long lockdown might be like? A bit? A lot? Now subtract how much of a bummer it would be to relive that via a science fiction relationship story.
Writer-director Iuli Gerbase’s debut feature beat “Locked Down,” “The End of Us” and other actual pandemic-inspired movies to the punch simply because she thought of what that sort of life would be like before it actually happened. There are things she anticipates that are right on the money, and elements of that life that don’t match the reality of what most of the world went through.
And she doesn’t fret about how, if no one can go outside without near-instant death, the electricity and water will stay on, food will be grown and harvested and who exactly installs the “tubes” that shove boxes of food right through your window. Nor does she dwell on how one puts that tube through your window without the deadly “pink cloud” getting inside.
Drones? OK. Kudos for all that.
But as the depression of confinement that goes from months to years sets in on screen, the viewer might rightly wonder if sitting through this no-longer-a-fantasy is good for one’s mental health.
A mysterious “pink cloud” appears in the sky. Civil defense sirens wail, and Giovana (Renata de Lélis) and Yago (Eduardo Mendonça) interrupt those post-coital bliss to rush inside and “close all windows.” She thought “It must be a joke,” but now they know better.
She’s in her mother’s house with a guy she “just met,” a chiropractor, just two attractive thirtysomethings with a little food and a lot of time on their hands.
But her tweenage sister (Helena Becker) is stuck in the home of where she was having a playdate with friends. His very elderly Dad (Girley Paes) is trapped with his day shift caregiver. And Giovana’s schoolteacher friend Sara (Kaya Rodrigues) is all alone. Facetime is no substitute for human contact.
Relatively speaking, our new “couple” are pretty well off. But as the days drag on into weeks and “I hope this goes away soon” becomes a forgotten dream, she sees a neighbor scrawl “The Cloud Won’t Kill Me” on his window, before jumping out of it, and the “couple” go from playing house to getting to know each other.
“If we stay locked in here for years, will we want children?” (in Portuguese with English subtitles).
“Do you want to raise a CHILD locked in here?”
They push each other’s buttons, take on role-playing games, do anything they can think of to relieve the boredom and keep things “fresh.” And they’re no damned good at it.
Gerbase conjures up a humorless, dystopian take on a dystopia most of us lived through. The depression is predictable and palpable, and yeah we recognize it. But the actors can only do so much to make it intriguing, sexy or biting enough to want to revisit it.
At some stage the points Gerbase earns for prescience run up against the monotony, the need to pick a fight just to juice up the one-on-one drama. And then there’s the heart-sinking peek at “What this might have looked like had a total lockdown lasted years?”
The sci-fi crucible that runs our couple through the life-cycle of a relationship in which the participants have to admit, “No relationship is like this,” becomes a grind — tedious and testing in its own way. The movie runs out of points to make long before a conclusion we easily anticipate arrives.
And without arriving at anything profound, we’re back to that original equation. We’ve done this. Who wants to spend another 104 minutes reliving it?
Rating: R for sexual content/nudity, some language and brief drug use
Cast: Renata de Lélis, Eduardo Mendonça, Helena Becker, Girley Paes and Kaya Rodrigues
Credits: Scripted and directed by Iuli Gerbase. a Blue Fox release.
Running time: 1:44