A film of two halves
Chinese-New Zealand director Roseanne Liang first came to prominence with her film Banana in a Nutshell, followed by the romcom My Wedding and Other Secrets.
After making five series of Flat3 and Friday Night Bites, Liang found international acclaim with the action-short Do No Harm. Liang most recently made headlines with the critical success of her feature film Shadow in the Clouds, which will be released in New Zealand theatres today.
Shadow in the Cloud is the type of film that makes many of its peculiar choices just to see what will work — a type of trial and error.
Whether you find the film to be ambitious, or just cringeworthy, it’s intriguing enough to captivate the audience, even if that means a sincere but silly mash-up of WW2 fisticuffs, gremlin chaos, and feminism in action.
“Shadow in the Cloud is about a female pilot in World War 2 who boards a plane with a mysterious and extremely classified package that she’s been ordered to deliver. During the mission, she encounters a combination of misogyny and other mysterious forces that will reveal themselves over the course of the flight.
“Much of the movie is set in the ball turret of a B17 bomber, a metal and glass ball on the underside of the plane, which can rotate 360 degrees and tilt up and down and the entire film takes place continuously in the air, during a sunrise,” Liang told The New Zealand Herald last year.
The year is 1943, and a woman named Maude Garrett, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, walks on a foggy tarmac looking for an Allied war plane called “The Fool’s Errand”. It’s a stoic Moretz, with a British accent, and on a top secret assignment. The men she is tasked with working with act like dogs as soon as they realise they have a “dame” onboard — questioning her credibility and mission — and she is designated to sit in the bottom turret.
Composed by New Zealand-based Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper, the synth-based score provides a strikingly dichotomous backdrop to the supernatural thriller.
Garrett is in for the ride of her life in Shadow in the Cloud, especially when gremlins start to beat up the plane, trying to get inside the turret she occupies.
The men above think she’s delusional when they hear
She fires a gun at the creatures, making the men on board even more afraid of the woman in their flying boys club. As they press for information from Garrett, we come to learn more about what is in the super-secret box, and what she has been lying about.
But Shadow in the Cloud has more chaos to come, and soon enough, the audience is watching Garrett dangle outside of the plane. Meanwhile, inside of the plane, it’s the men who are hopelessly useless, unorganised, and primed to catch a bullet to the stomach.
The twists come rapidly in the film’s first half. In the second, the narrative dissolves into a zigzag of flying bodies and explosions that bend the laws of space and time.
The out-of-this-worldliness in Shadow in the Cloud is a perk. There is never a moment in this lively film when you can tell what is coming next. — NZ Herald, AP
Shadow in the Cloud, a Four Knights Film release, is rated R13 for “violence, offensive language and content that may disturb”.
Running time: 83 minutes.