Young Adult movies are finding homes on streaming platforms and it’s something to be excited about. With YA novel adaptations come expectations, but those YA stories about loss carry an important weight. The Sky is Everywhere is directed by Josephine Decker and is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Jandy Nelson, who also wrote the screenplay. A story about loss and how it can carve you into someone else, The Sky is Everywhere is erratic, whimsical, and incredibly somber even with its beautifully vibrant color palette. In truth, it’s clear that this is an A24 production, both in visuals and vibes. But more importantly, it’s a story that can offer up catharsis for those struggling to understand who they are now that they’ve lost someone that defined them.
Lennie Walker (Grace Kaufman) is a 17-year-old musical prodigy. Following the sudden loss of her older sister, Bailey (Havana Rose Liu), Lennie begins to change, buckling under the weight of grief. When Joe (Jacques Colimon), the charismatic new guy at school, enters Lennie’s life, she’s drawn to him. But Lennie’s complicated relationship with her sister’s devastated boyfriend, Toby (Pico Alexander), starts to affect Lennie and Joe’s budding love. But despite this love story being at the center of marketing, The Sky is Everywhere is more about loss than it is about love, or at least romantic love.
Through her vivid imagination and honest, conflicted heart, Lennie navigates her pain. She remembers her sister and gets angry when the memory becomes only the surface of who Bailey was. At points, she isolates herself from her family and friends in a selfish example of not being able to see past her own pain. But more importantly, through monologues, we hear Lennie struggle to find out who she is now that her sister is gone. Her other half, Lennie shows the audience how they built each other up and how she was constantly running to catch Bailey—to be her, in a way.
The Sky is Everywhere claims to be about love and loss, but the truth is, it’s about how grief consumes you. It’s about grief growing chaotically through your body and mind, changing who you are, what you feel, and everything about you until you face it. This film is messy. It’s loud and chaotic. It’s a hodgepodge of monologues and whimsy. And if you lost someone close to you when you were a teen… that’s what it’s like. It’s messy and scary and scattered. In that way, The Sky is Everywhere captures Lennie’s journey. Sure she has romantic interests but her connection to them isn’t the focus. The focus is the connection to her sister, the void she left in her heart, and how “grief is a house where the younger sister grows older than the older one.”
But maybe it’s unfair to say that the grief we see in The Sky is Everywhere is just experienced by teens. I’m 30 now and after losing four family members in the span of a month, I don’t feel like myself anymore. I don’t feel like the person I was before the dominoes started falling and I don’t know how to reconcile the memories I have them and who they had become in the years since I last saw them.
To say I cried while watching The Sky is Everywhere is an understatement. That said, the emotion and the very visceral exploration of both sharp pain and numbness that Decker and Nelson explore in the film is brought to a new level when you add in the film’s magic. Using the beautiful redwoods of California, a rose garden, and mind-altering music, The Sky is Everywhere becomes a fantasy. This beautiful world of magic and sadness is created by Lennie. She lives there, she runs there, and eventually, she learns to process life outside of it. This magic is what makes the film fit perfectly into A24’s filmography.
That said, I don’t want The Sky is Everywhere to be swallowed whole by the expectations that come with the studio. Instead, I want it to be embraced by the raw and messy look at grief it presents. This film isn’t afraid of offering catharsis for the feelings left unsaid when our loved ones pass. Our jealousy, our rage, our fear, and of course the ones expected of you. Lennie is a beautiful look at how pain hollows us out and how we have to rebuild who we are. The Sky is Everywhere is somber, sweet, and erratically messy, just like grief.
The Sky is Everywhere is available exclusively on Apple TV+ February 11, 2022
The Sky is Everywhere
- Rating - 9/109/10
I don’t want The Sky is Everywhere to be swallowed whole by the expectations that come with the studio. Instead, I want it to be embraced by the raw and messy look at grief it presents. This film isn’t afraid of offering catharsis for the feelings left unsaid when our loved ones pass. Our jealousy, our rage, our fear, and of course the ones expected of you. Lennie is a beautiful look at how pain hollows us out and how we have to rebuild who we are. The Sky is Everywhere is somber, sweet, and erratically messy, just like grief.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.