“The marvelous omnibus The Year Of The Everlasting Storm approaches the Covid-19 pandemic not so much as a physical event but, rather, as a state of being, presenting a series of poetic sequences that capture the anxiety, uncertainty and isolation. The film’s seven esteemed directors approach a difficult subject with grace and humility, resisting the impulse for sweeping proclamations in order to pinpoint the small human moments that endured even during these dark times. Filmed across several continents, Everlasting Storm features, among others, two festival veterans (Jafar Panahi, This is Not a Film; Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) and an Oscar-winning documentarian (Laura Poitras, Citizenfour). Consisting of three non-fiction segments and four narrative instalments, the film is refreshing in its understated modesty. If anything, the shorter running time seems to energize the directors, who tell miniature stories with a minimum of fuss but careful attention to the emotional fallout of life under quarantine.
Panahi’s ‘Life’ is a droll look at his family during shutdown, his camera often lingering on his gigantic, comically serene iguana Iggy. Although hardly momentous, ’Life’ astutely observes the sense of limbo that descended on those suddenly housebound. In the spare drama ‘The Break Away,’ Anthony Chen (Ilo Ilo) examines a young married couple (Zhou Dongyu, Zhang Yu) slowly unraveling while being cooped up with their boy. Dominga Sotomayor’s (Too Late to Die Young) ‘Sin Titulo, 2020’ is a wistful snapshot of a singer with two very different daughters. These muted investigations into the personal fault lines exacerbated by the stress and loneliness of quarantine are exceedingly lovely. Perhaps not surprisingly, the documentary segments bear a sharper edge. In ‘Little Measures,’ Body Cam filmmaker Malik Vitthal follows Bobby Yay Yay Jones, a father fighting for custody of his three children, mixing animation with Jones’ FaceTime interactions with his kids. Poitras’ riveting ‘Terror Contagion’ addresses the pandemic from a unique angle, shedding light on the NSO Group; an Israeli security firm accused of launching cyber attacks against activists and journalists.
With no weak links, Everlasting Storm finishes strongly with David Lowery’s (The Green Knight) moody ‘Dig Up My Darling’ — a moody character study concerning a woman (Catherine Machovsky) in search of unconventional treasure — and Weerasethakul’s sublime ‘Night Colonies,’ easily the omnibus’ most abstract and haunting chapter. Filming a growing swarm of insects that descend on a bed, ‘Night Colonies’ hints at everything from biblical plague to the deteriorating mental state of anyone trapped indoors for too long. Like his Everlasting Storm cohorts, Weerasethakul aims for an offhand, intimate reaction to a global crisis that is piercing in its beauty.” -Tim Grierson, Screen Daily