The Year of the Everlasting Storm is certainly an unusual film. It's an anthology where each segment is directed by one of the most acclaimed directors from around the world. Fiction, non-fiction, and experimental cinema are melded together over the course of two hours. All of them are in some way related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Witnessing these top-tier artists work in the short format offers a thrill you don't often get, so the movie will be of interest to admirers of their output.
First up is “Life,” directed by Jafar Panâhi (This Is Not a Film). A record of his own lockdown experience, it follows his mother-in-law as she comes to visit – wrapped up in PPE, no less – and make peace with his giant pet iguana. Shot in a matter-of-fact style, it's difficult to tell if the film has been staged for the camera or is a deftly-edited home movie. Regardless, it speaks meaningfully to how we all needed to come to terms with the quarantine portion of coronavirus.
The final segment is “Night Colonies” from Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives). He sets up multiple fluorescent lights around a bed, then films the bugs that swarm it, eating each other in the process. It's a chill-inducing metaphor for the rapid spread of Covid.
In between those bookends, Anthony Chen (Wet Season) looks at a husband and wife experiencing lockdown-related martial stress; documentarian Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) explores the abuse of coronavirus tracing apps by the government and law enforcement, who can utilize them for surveillance purposes; Dominga Sotomayor (Too Late to Die Young) tells a story about a mother and her adult daughter trying to get a glimpse of another daughter's newborn baby during quarantine; and Malik Vittal (Imperial Dreams) follows a father whose attempt to get the court to give him increased visitation with his foster care-placed children is hindered by Covid's impact on bureaucracy.
The best segment comes from David Lowery (A Ghost Story). His “Dig Up My Darling” is a moody, haunting, stylishly-photographed tale about a woman seeking to dig up the corpse of her little brother, who presumably died from Covid or a virus similar to it. As with many of Lowery's films, this one has a mysterious vibe that lures you in.
Like all anthology movies, some segments are better than others, but happily, there are no outright clunkers here. Each is interesting in its own right. The Year of the Everlasting Storm affords viewers the opportunity to see how several talented directors are dealing with the pandemic – what's on their minds, how they're attempting to cope, how their creativity aids them in processing an event we've all struggled with. That quality makes this a worthwhile, if not particularly mainstream, endeavor that hardcore cinephiles will cherish.
out of four
The Year of the Everlasting Storm is unrated, but contains adult language, some sexuality, and mature themes. The running time is 1 hour and 55 minutes.