Down From the Clouds – French Riviera Film Festival 2022 – Film Review

Down From The Clouds is an immersive, familial tale from the innocent perspective of young Su as she tries to make sense of the dynamics of her relationship with her parents.  As a child, what may be the best way to get your parents’ attention when they seem to be facing their own crises? Su tries on many occasions, in Down From the Clouds, to ensure that her voice is heard but ultimately, she wishes to receive that ice cream that her father promised her as she still believes in absolutes in the way that only a child does. Down From the Clouds is that empathetic platform providing a sensitive depiction of a young girl’s woes and realisation that adults may be flawed human beings, with such coming-of-age discovery impressively occurring within a short runtime.

Down From the Clouds has an emotional handle as it delves into the sentiments explored by the family and uses glances and minimal dialogue to convey the dynamics. The film briefly touches upon domestic politics such as femicide thus emphasising the harsh reality of some domestic contexts within Turkey. It is not a topic explored or dwelled upon within the film but, its introduction and presence conveys a sense of dread that pervades the film. Understandably, Su feels frustrated in between her parents who are clearly encountering difficulties which she is too young to decipher.

Lavinya Ünlüer as Su in Down From the Clouds
Lavinya Ünlüer as Su in Down From the Clouds

Down From The Clouds succeeds in continuing this trajectory as Su feels ignored when the promise made to her, by her father, is forgotten. However, the film imbues those moments of disappointment with a degree of magic with an angelic sounding score and heavenly lights surrounding Su to convey that sense of childlike hope.  It is tenderly captured, with beautiful editing and cinematography, and permits that emotional resonance to pervade the film.  Down From the Clouds takes this exploration of a father-daughter relationship in its stride with a critical examination of parental responsibility. Should a parent have to forego all of their ambitions and desires in order to create a family unit? It is one question that the film poses subtly where the adults surrounding Su express their regrets and unspoken desires without an appreciation of how deeply children absorb such emotions.

Down From The Clouds excellently portrays a sense of foreboding and dread as the consequences of irresponsible behaviour manifest themselves. The underlying tension is heartfelt and unexpected but is assisted by an assured, breakthrough performance by Lavinya Ünlüer as Su. Her expressive delivery and interaction with Cansel Elcin as Baba is mesmerising and empathetically captures every ounce of unspoken childhood disappointment. An audience will not fail to be enticed by her endearing delivery of such role in a performance beyond her years. Elcin truly steals his scenes as the reckless Baba and convinces that he is a master of doom, which the horror sounding score accentuates.

Lavinya Ünlüer and Cansel Elcin in Down From the Clouds
Lavinya Ünlüer and Cansel Elcin in Down From the Clouds

Both actors under Cansu Boğuşlu’s masterful direction are a compelling watch. There is also a sense of beauty captured by Boğuşlu, within this striking short film, which allows a sense of awe to develop with breath-taking scenery, particularly with those wanderlust inspiring scenes set in Cappadocia.

Down From The Clouds is a remarkably well made short that embraces that childhood recognition that our parents are not super heroes but mere humans. The film’s subtle exploration of the juxtaposition between freedom and responsibility within parenthood is intriguing to watch within an emotional context of a young girl’s perspective, who simply wants an ice cream without being cognisant of the real-world dangers associated. It is an absorbing tale that knows the perfect moment to unsettle its audience before bringing a sense of calm and beauty, which is truly the mark of a fascinating director to watch.

View the trailer for Down From The Clouds here

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