Starring: Grace Kaufman, Jacques Colimon, Cherry Jones, Jason Segal, Pico Alexander, and Havana Rose Lou.
Directed By: Josephine Decker
Where I Watched It: Apple Plus
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
The Plot: Lettie (Kaufman) is a talented teenager with dreams of Juilliard, but when her sister (Lou) suddenly drops dead during a high school performance, the introverted clarinet player is left trying to navigate her world without her extroverted other half. In this journey, she is accompanied by her Gran (Jones) as well as her pot smoking uncle (Segal), her sister’s surviving boyfriend (Alexander), and potentially a new love interest (Colimon). She’s also deeply obsessed with Wuthering Heights.
What Works: First. Let me say. Everyone stop. Can we please, PLEASE, appreciate Cherry jones more as an actress? I really wanted her in the Supporting Actress race last year for The Eyes Of Tammy Faye. She’s one of those talents that can be in any movie, and the movie could be complete shit, and she’d still be amazing. She could be given the worst dialogue and she’ll make it hit like Shakespeare. I bow down to Cherry Jones. This film gets points just for having her.
I love movies about music. Not musicals, which I generally also like, but music. People who love music, study music, or perform music within the context of the film. So that element is appreciated by me personally. I will say that most of the actors work, especially the youth, which feel like youth. This film isn’t gunning for an Oscar. It just wants teenagers to like it. It wants to be the next Fault in Our Stars. That’s all.
Kaufman can be at times insufferable, but I think that’s the point. Her character goes through a wide range in her interactions with other characters. Her boy counterparts are more bland, but they do OK.
The Sky Is Everywhere tries to compensate with a story that feels like you’ve seen it before, by adding visual stylings to the film that will either work for you or not. At times they did…
What Doesn’t Work: …and at times they did not. Sometimes it tries too hard to be some quirky fantasy while also convincing you that these characters are in mourning, and it’s not in a What Dreams May Come kind of way. It’s far more fantastical than that. Some of it works, when used at the right time, and others just feel like they detract from their scenes.
Jason Segal is wasted here, probably quite literally. He needs better projects. His character offers nothing and brings very little to the structure of the film. if his character didn’t exist, the film would be the same.
There’s all this stuff with Toby, it just doesn’t work for me. If I explain it, it spoils the film, but Pico Alexander does fine with his role, it’s just these really bold, rather appalling choices they make that keep you from ever truly being able to relate to his character or his relationship to her sister. Then at times, he’s a potential love interest, and just none of it worked for me.
The odd thing about choices made, is that the film is written by the same person who wrote the novel from which the film is made. She’s adapting her own story, so it’s not that her film is poorly adapted, it’s that these elements just don’t work the way she wants them to on screen, or she’s not as good of a screenwriter as she is a novelist. Pick one.
I didn’t hate the film, and some of it works, and some of it doesn’t.
The Blind Perspective: Thumbs down to the audio description which does a poor job describing most of the quirky fantasy elements thrown into an otherwise normal story. Many things happen that just are not described at all, and some things are described so sporadically it makes the film feel more manic in nature than it is. Like, if the film had 20 fantasy sequences, it would feel like a real true fantasy to a visual audience. But if only five of those get audio described, they seem like bizarre choices for a film about death. I can’t always just praise all the time in this section simply for providing the audio description. It also has to be useful. I feel like this audio description definitely negatively impacted my ability to understand and enjoy the film, something I’m sure the director would not have wanted.
Final Thoughts: Admittedly, it is possible that if I could see, I would give a slightly higher grade, but not much. There are still some plot elements, and a Jason Segal character that just didn’t work for me. Should you see this? Maybe. It’s really up to you.
Final Grade: C+