Following in the footsteps of similar young adult adaptations, A24 and Apple collaboration The Sky is Everywhere swings for the fences. Popping with unique visual effects, fully-realized dream sequences, and a preposterous love triangle, the movie is a decidedly mixed bag. Even with the purest of intentions, attempting to truncate the Jandy Nelson-penned source material was probably a mistake. At a certain point, it simply feels like the creators are checking off boxes of what things to include, while never embracing their concepts on greater than surface level.
Lennie (Grace Kaufman) is a musical prodigy who has recently lost her other half, her older sister, Bailey (Havana Rose Liu). Bailey, who passed away from a fatal arrhythmia, may be gone, but her presence continues to linger over Lennie and the ones she loved. Among those still mourning her loss is Bailey’s now ex-boyfriend, Toby (Pico Alexander), her gram (Cherry Jones), and her hipster stoner uncle, Big (Jason Segel). Toby has weaved his way into the family, and his shared grief with Lennie draws them to one another despite trying to resist. Lennie first notices that Toby is drawn to her when an innocent hug results in a hilariously awkward afterward involving his bulge. Lennie feels closer to Bailey when she is with Toby, creating a confusing situation for both parties.
The Sky is Everywhere wouldn’t be a disposable teen drama without the completion of its love triangle. Uncanny Annie actor Jacques Colimon is happy to fill the quota. Colimon plays Craig, a trumpet-playing dreamboy obsessed with Bach and the power of music. He also happens to become smitten with Lennie almost as soon as he lays eyes on her. Craig has a similar effect on Lennie—the first time she sees him, Lennie imagine the music notes emanating from his performance taking on a life of their own and toppling her world. When they play music together, there are immediate fireworks. Now, drawn between two opposites, Lennie must come of age, and choose the man who fits her best.
The heavy focus on Lennie’s music career and her attempts to get in at Juliard could have used stronger focus and finesse. The Sky is Everywhere feels perfectly content in treasuring the relationships over the narrative. I never felt a sense of connection to Lennie and her plight, which is definitely a major issue when dealing with a movie that tackles death so directly. Lennie herself is so selfish. She prances around with a woe-is-me attitude, as if the only one in the house who had lost someone. I found the film entertaining enough, but it had a long ways to go if hunting for truly great material.
In the end, The Sky is Everywhere is not aiming to be high art. The movie is quirky and strange; however, it is not to be taken very seriously. It does have beautiful scenes, such as Lennie and Craig listening to Bach through their headphones while the tunes connect them, complete with flowers blooming all around them. A wonderful personification of anger also shows the ugliness of emotions blankly. If only the cliches weren’t able to be spotted from a mile away. I guess it really comes with the territory, but I loved the ending. A living breathing amalgation of grief, The Sky is Everywhere implores one to take things slow and remember those steps of recovery. Grieving a loved one, especially a family member, is an undying, constant work in progress. It is a shame The Sky is Everywhere loses interest in telling the story of grief in favor of light and fluffy love trials and tribulations.
The Sky is Everywhere takes flight when it debuts in theaters and streaming on Apple TV+, Friday, February 11th.