First look at YA drama The Sky is Everywhere 'embraces imperfect feelings' about grief and love
The Sky Is Everywhere wants to make you feel all the extremes — from the joys of falling in love for the first time to the lows of life-shattering grief — set against a backdrop of classical music and magical realism.
EW has your exclusive first look at Apple Original Films and A24's adaptation of Jandy Nelson's best-selling YA novel about 17-year-old Lennie Walker (Grace Kaufman), a radiant musical prodigy who is struggling after the sudden loss of her older sister Bailey (Havana Rose Liu). When Joe Fontaine (Jacques Colimon), the charismatic new guy at school, enters Lennie's life, she finds herself drawn to him, but her uncertain relationship with her sister's devastated boyfriend, the quiet, seductive Toby (Pico Alexander), starts to affect their budding love. Through her vivid, visceral imagination and conflicted heart, Lennie navigates first love and first loss, ultimately learning how to create a song of her own.
"I always wanted to make a film where you experience every emotion — where you laugh and cry, find tension and release, feel sexy, feel scared. And I adore magical realism," director Josephine Decker (Madeline's Madeline, Shirley) tells EW. "I love how Jandy's script holds comedy alongside tragedy, how she lets us be inside of the playful awkwardness and thrill of first love alongside the raw reality of grief. And she lets us inside of Lennie's wild imagination."
Decker is excited for both fans of the book and newcomers alike to experience the "Lennie-scapes" come to life from the page to the screen. "Those poetry sections that take place inside Lennie's mind, I think those magical moments make this project so unique," she says. "Plus, I am such a classical music dork and so getting to make a movie about teenagers who are obsessed with Bach was just juicy and very affirming! I hope our audiences really see themselves in the film and can relate to Lennie and Joe and Toby and their passions and frustrations and innocences and transgressions and dreams."
How Lennie and the other characters deal with their complex emotions can get messy, but Decker enjoyed getting to show all of life's experiences in an open and honest way. "The wonderful thing about Jandy's writing is that it really invites us to embrace imperfect moments and imperfect feelings," Decker says. "So I think, of all my films, I was the least afraid moving into this film about 'getting it right.' I just wanted to create a really joyous, loving, open energy on set and have that be the vibe that the film moved out from."
The Sky Is Everywhere was filmed during the 2020 wildfires and the beginnings of the pandemic, which added extra obstacles for Decker to overcome. "I think we were all so grateful to be working and also extremely alive to the true heart of the story," she adds. "All of the loss that the crew and cast had already witnessed and experienced in 2020 made us keenly aware that we needed to do our best to hold space for the challenging performances in the film and for a story about grief and love."
Decker remembers the day they shot one of the most pivotal, emotionally challenging scenes of the movie. "When we shot the first take, I remember bawling — truly bawling," she says. "The reality of grief had stepped into us. It was exhausting and also very profound. The challenge was letting the film live its widest range — being rich with the fullness of life and play and love and possibility and imagination and poetry and hilarity and comedy and magic, and also with the profundity of loss and sorrow and anger and confusion and longing. We wanted the film to hold those polarities as organically as the book had."
The Sky Is Everywhere will premiere on Apple TV+ and in select theaters on Feb. 11.
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