TIFF15 REVIEW: People Are Becoming Clouds [2015]

Score: 5/10 | ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 15 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (USA)
Studio: Riot Time Pictures / Lowland Pictures
Director(s): Marc Katz
Writer(s): Marc Katz, Adriana Campoy & Joe Meno

“What was the question I had asked?”

There’s a cute conceit at the heart of Marc Katz‘s People Are Becoming Clouds. John (David Ross) and Eleanor (Libby Woodbridge) have recently been married and ever since moving into a new apartment together have found she tends to transform into a cloud. Sometimes the type is in accord with her mood as far as color and lightning, others find her as distinct shapes like a dove playing a trumpet. In order to try and combat their struggle they seek Dr. Corduroy’s (Sean Cullen) assistance. According to him this ailment has become very common lately—a metaphoric nod to the hardships of a contemporary world where everyone has their own individualism to reconcile with their union to the person they love. A chasm has formed and its escape manifests as hiding under the guise of a meteorological anomaly.

Katz’s decision to use clouds works because of their multi-faceted natures of proving soft and fluffy, confrontationally volatile, and completely open to interpretation. The latter brings an inherent humor as the psychiatrist nods an “ah-huh” whenever John describes Eleanor’s form. It’s as though he has a guidebook to what shape means what and cannot wait to have them come back once a week to describe each one. Unfortunately the absurdity of the situation is almost too much to bear and I found myself craving an explanation beyond being an acceptable oddity. Besides explaining it results from highly emotional circumstances—a sort of knee-jerk reaction to sensitive topics as a defense mechanism—it simply is. Sometimes that’s enough because the filmmaker builds off his rules and delivers weighty commentary above, but this time it needed more beneath the surface.

I needed a breakthrough in therapy rather than introductory checklists. I needed broader humor to acknowledge the craziness of what occurs rather than sly smirks. The idea is wonderful and the characters embrace it whole-heartedly, but its execution through story lacks substance. Unfolding like the start of something bigger, a phenomenon taking everyone by storm (pun intended), it ends right when those answers appear ready to be revealed. We don’t see it happening to anyone else, no one freaks out when Eleanor changes, and it suddenly feels normal with nothing left to worry about. To me this shines depression and psychological disorder under a flippant light. Rather than seek to fix a problem or vocalize one exists, everyone laughs and airs frustrations until cloud metamorphosis becomes routine. Sadly, ignoring such pain and discomfort is the worst thing you can do.

Courtesy of TIFF

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