THE YEAR OF THE EVERLASTING STORM -- A Less-Than-Stellar Anthology Feature from Established Filmmakers
Review by Sean Boelman
A COVID-times anthology of short films from some of the greatest filmmakers working today may sound like a great idea, but their limitations combined with their already restrained styles results in a frustratingly minimalistic experience. As an anthology movie, The Year of the Everlasting Storm has far more misses than it does hits despite the talent involved.
The central concept of the film is that each filmmaker contributed a segment while abiding by a series of rules designed to both promote creativity and protect the filmmakers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Something that makes this movie unique compared to a lot of other films made during this time is that it isn’t focused entirely on the pandemic, but the situations that rose up around it.
When it comes to most anthology movies, the segments are typically pretty consistent in quality with one or two standouts and disappointments. In this film, the segments are all rather frustrating. The portions directed by Jafar Panahi and Dominga Sotomayor are probably the least spectacular of the bunch, competently-made but not especially interesting.
Two of the more established directors, David Lowery and Achichatpong Weerasethakul, make segments that are well-done but perhaps a bit too ambiguous for their own good. Weerasethakul’s contribution, in particular, is very experimental and it’s hard to put a fair amount of thought into it while overwhelmed with the other segments.
Also on the more experimental side is Malik Vitthal’s segment, which is also the one that feels the most incomplete. Commenting on the police brutality situation that got even more rampant last year, this is undeniably the segment that has the most important thing to say in the anthology, but it’s too short to have its full impact.
The worst segment in the movie is that by documentarian Laura Poitras. Although Poitras has made some absolutely exceptional nonfiction films in the past, this story just isn’t as compelling as those she has explored in the past. The result is an unpleasant and often boring series of lingo-heavy conversations.
Anthony Chen’s segment is the only one in the movie that is an unmitigated success. Filled with genuine emotion and some great performances, this is the only one where it feels like we actually have a reason to care as the audience. It’s the type of intimate, compelling story that one would have hoped would have made up the entire anthology.
Even though the film features work from some of the greatest filmmakers working today, The Year of the Everlasting Storm is a near disaster. There is one good segment in the movie, and the rest range from just alright to outright dull.
The Year of the Everlasting Storm is now in theaters.
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