Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Sky Is Everywhere is the latest young adult novel turned into a film. It's based on the book of the same name from author Jandy Nelson that came out back in 2010. This time around Apple TV+ gets into the young adult game. It's vastly different from a lot of other young adult novels turned big-budget films.
Lennon Walker (Grace Kaufman) is a seventeen-year-old high school student who lives in northern California. She lives with her grandmother and her sister, Bailey, until a tragedy happens and her life is turned upside down. She has to navigate a world where she has to live without her best friend and someone she loves. She tries to forget by getting involved with a boy from school Joe Fontaine (Jacques Colimon), and her family Big (Jason Segel) and Gram (Cherry Jones) who console her during a tough time.
Nelson also wrote the screenplay, so she obviously has a handle on these characters, specifically Lennie, the protagonist. She goes through various phases of trauma dealing with her loss. Tucked away among the redwoods, the world she lives in is filled with beautiful colors all around her. She has a life of music and art that defines her and they are expressed very vividly throughout the film. The film is so beautiful to look at from beginning to end.
The director Josephine Decker, not a big-name director, has directed a few projects in her past. The biggest name is Shirley starring Elizabeth Moss. She seems to have a grasp on the material from looking at all the various tools she uses to tell this story. Visual effects are used sometimes to express the main character's emotions. Text on the screen allows the viewer to see messages she's writing to different people. Decker has the experience to get across through all the various tools the story she's trying to tell. Working hand in hand with the writer Nelson, they do a very good job of adapting this novel to the screen
The film has a couple of subplots that run throughout it as well as the main character's arc. The subplots are woven nicely throughout the film. They aren't shoehorned in. Everything that the main character deals with is very realistic to what a real teenager would be going through. All the extraordinary things are just wrapping paper on the present that is this story and the main character. A lot of young adult novels turned into movies can be a bit melodramatic, but this one isn't. It's more authentic and character-driven. As an audience member watching this, I was completely invested in this young woman and what she is going through.
The film has various supporting characters which all add depth and continuity to the main story of the film. The entire cast does a great job supporting Kaufman's character. Kaufman is primarily known as a television actress, but this is a breakout role for and she has an upcoming role in Resurrection, a film that recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2022. She is an actress to be watched very closely in the months to come. Her star is on the rise for sure.
The Sky Is Everywhere isn't your average young adult novel turned feature film. It has a style all its own. The author and filmmaker both have a grasp on this material. The result is a colorful artistic piece of cinema that defines a genre. It takes tropes that we already know and turns them into something beautiful. With a breakout performance by Kaufman and supporting performances by many others, this film works for all audiences, even an old grizzled film critic like me.
The Sky Is Everywhere hits Apple TV+ on February 11.