Monday, April 15

The Sky is Everywhere review – sensitive and whimsical portrait of teenage grief | movies


The Sky Is Everywhere, Apple TV+ and A24’s adaptation of Jandy Nelson’s 2010 young adult novel, often gives what could be a rote exploration of grief the sheen of a fairy tale. Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker (Grace Kaufman) lives in a colorful house in a northern California redwood forest surrounded by ancient trees and her Ella Gram’s (Cherry Jones) sweet-smelling roses. A talented clarinetist, her forays into the woods are soundtracked by classical jazz; the wind carries off her de ella poems and letters de ella, written on leaves or looseleaf paper. There once were two sisters who explored together, she narrates, and minutes into the film, there remains only one, after the death of Lennie’s beloved older sister Bailey (Havana Rose Liu) from a heart arrhythmia – the same condition that killed their mother when they were children – at the age of 19.

In less capable hands, this catastrophic loss could become the single dominant element of the film, the sap that overwhelms everywhere else. But through the eyes of Josephine Decker, the film-maker behind the experimental theater trip Madeline’s Madeline and the perversely surprising, deeply under-appreciated psychodrama Shirley, adolescent grief becomes something more confounding, sensual, spiky. Decker infuses Nelson’s screenplay with a potent dose of whimsical fantasy, morphing Lennie’s tortuous bereavement into a lonely house, a romantic musical journey and a garden where other complicated, confusing emotions grow.

Those emotions mostly pertain to the boys who fill the gaps in Lennie’s life as she returns to school after an absence. There’s Toby (Pico Alexander), Ella’s Bailey’s boyfriend, whom Lennie both resents as the person who took Bailey’s time in life and covets as the only person who understands her pain in her death. And then there’s Joe (Jacques Colimon), a new student and fellow musician, the only person who can coax Lennie out of her grief-addled musical funk and to whom Lennie is immediately attracted. The classic love triangle could feel derivative if not for Kaufman’s fine-tuned performance, Decker’s focus on Lennie’s emotional rollercoaster, and the specificity with which each male character matches her yearning to live and return to herself in spite of crushing loss, like two opposite ends. of a puzzle piece.

Also Read  The PSOE supports in the Senate the proposal of ERC and Bildu to decriminalize insults to the Crown

It’s family territory; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Netflix’s hit YA adaptation which spawned its own trilogy and in-house stars, similarly follows a younger sister in the shadow of an absent older one (though at college, not dead) in the shadow of loss, but with a more poppy, heartthrob bent. The Sky is Everywhere has a nerdier sensibility – Lennie is a band geek obsessed with Wuthering Heights – which, combined with Decker’s atmospheric, off-kilter style, feels fresh.

As in Shirley, Decker’s homage to midcentury horror legend Shirley Jackson which bent the rules of a literary biopic by placing the author in her own plot, The Sky is Everywhere flirts with the conventions of YA through elaborate flourishes of magical realism. A sequence in which Joe and Lennie bond over Bach becomes a fantasy ballet of flower-adorned nymphs. Music floats characters in the air. Lennie’s fortress of grief comes alive as a house no one else can enter, a storm no one else can see or feel. Heightened sound effects – rustling wind, humming crickets, buzzing flies, a springing sound to indicate arousal – effectively bring Lennie’s interior experience closer to our own.

The film is strongest in its examination of the emotional scramble of grief, actions that far outpace the characters’ ability to process or understand them. Compared with scenes between Lennie and Joe, which are surprisingly sensuous and sexy (in an accurate teenage way, not an adults cosplaying teenage way), scenes between Lennie and Toby are raw, jagged. In one sequence, Decker interweaves Lennie’s visceral memory of Bailey’s open casket with one of kissing Toby, soundtracked by the tinnitus of an aftershock instead of the usual classical score by Caroline Shaw. It’s provocative, transgressive material, how thoroughly tangled these wires of grief and lust have become, without being salacious or incendiary.

Also Read  'After the victory': ruined city of Okhtyrka clings to hope of brighter future | Ukraine

Decker’s deftness in exploring these thornier, misunderstood feelings renders some of the more melodramatic moments (the secret engagement of a teenager, a pregnancy reveal) off-key, too bold. Similarly, Lennie’s vivid interiority is in stark contrast to several other thinly sketched characters, such as Lennie’s stoner uncle Big (Jason Segel), little more than a stock hippie, best friend Sarah (Ji-young Yoo), a fellow band geek whose support Lennie mostly rebuffs, and one-dimensional mean girl Rachel (Julia Schlaepfer), Lennie’s band rival. Even Bailey, invoked so often, is mostly a spectral memory.

These are off notes in a mostly absorbing symphony of aftermath, one that lands at a message you’d expect: that grief is horrific but enduring, that life goes on, that the only way forward is through. The journey to that point, and the only reasonable resolution to the love triangle, is a surprisingly enjoyable one – an emotional arc that honors the beautiful strangeness of teenage feelings more than its inherent drama, even after the worst happens.


www.theguardian.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *