Directed by up-and-coming director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets), Shadow in the Cloud is one of those films you just need to sit down and watch without over analysing what is happening on the screen. Yes it is completely unbelievable and yes anyone with any knowledge of the events of World War II will quickly tell you that it is likely that the writer did no military research at all when putting pen to paper – but still this is a film that you certainly do not want to miss.
The reason you should still watch Shadow in the Cloud is because of its sheer creativity and because of the performance of its leading lady – Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass). At times Moretz carries this film almost like a one-handed theatre performance and if anybody out there had any doubts about her ever becoming a Hollywood leading lady then this is the film that will erase those doubts forever.
Moretz plays Maude Garrett, a female pilot during World War II who suddenly finds herself sent to be part of a top secret mission with an all-male, chauvinistic crew. The crew which is controlled by Capt John Reeves (Callen Mulvey – Captain America: The Winter Soldier) make it very clear that they don’t want Maude on the flight and are even less impressed when they discover she will not tell them what the secret mission is all about.
With no room left for passengers Maude is placed in the gunner’s turret and leaves part of her ‘mission’ with the only crew member that was friendly with her – Walter Quaid (John Taylor Smith – Hunter Killer). However, as the journey goes on Maude becomes even less liked by the crew when she claims that she can see a creature attacking the plane and can see Japanese fighter jets near them – claims that the whole crew dispute.
There is little doubt that without Moretz’s performance this film could have become unwatchable. There is so much going on here at times the film feels like it wants to be a serious film about ace pilots, in the vein of the seriously under-appreciated Flyboys, and then suddenly you have a gremlin-like creature ripping apart the plane like it is an everyday occurrence. The film jumps genres as it pleases and as we previously mentioned is historically inaccurate as well, yet somehow it works.
That somehow really is Moretz. As a director Liang throws everything into the capable hands of Moretz and expects her to be able to pull it off… luckily she does. For a huge chunk of this film Moretz is the only actor that we see on screen. Her time in the gunner’s turret is treated like a one-act play. The other characters in the film become voices on Maude’s headset and it is up to Moretz to guide this film in for a smooth landing, something that she does so well that she should probably be rewarded for it… although anyone who thinks that the this film is going to get anywhere near the Academy Awards is seriously deluded.
Shadow In The Cloud could well be one of the biggest surprises of 2021. Sure there will be a lot of people that just plainly hate the film but you do instantly know that this is going to become a cult classic for those that like their cinema a little left of centre. Yes, it is likely to become known as ‘that war film where Chloe Grace Moretz is fighting a gremlin on a plane’ and it will be probably held in the same regard as Snakes on a Plane – a film that makes no sense but is loved by audiences anyway.
Shadow in the Cloud is screening now in Phuket and is classified ‘15’.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus