Grace Kaufman and Josephine Decker on The Sky Is Everywhere
"The Sky Is Everywhere" Finds a Delicate Balance Between Love and Grief
Image Source: Apple
Apple TV+'s "The Sky Is Everywhere" offers a sensitive look at a teenage love story that blossoms amid a time of grief. The film, which debuted on Feb. 11, is an adaptation of Jandy Nelson's best-selling novel of the same name. Written by Nelson and directed by Josephine Decker, the movie follows 17-year-old Lennie Walker (Grace Kaufman) as she deals with the tragic loss of her older sister, Bailey (Havana Rose Liu). In the months after her sister's death, Lennie quickly falls for Joe Fontaine (Jacques Colimon) — the new heartthrob at her high school who she grows romantic feelings for while dealing with a conflicting attraction to her sister's devastated boyfriend, Toby (Pico Alexander).
". . . just reading her journey and discovering more about her, I really did fall totally in love with her."
Kaufman, who's only 19 years old, helms the movie adaptation in her first major feature film role — an opportunity she describes as both nerve-wrecking and something she "so desperately wanted to be a part of." "It was a little daunting at first, just knowing that I was going to be leading the whole project and I did feel a little bit of pressure and some weight on my shoulders," she tells POPSUGAR. The biggest draw for Kaufman was the story itself — specifically, how relatable her quirky character is. "I just so resonated with Lennie. I was reading the script about a teenage girl as a teenage girl, when we were in the middle of a pandemic and I myself was feeling so much confusion and isolation . . . just reading her journey and discovering more about her, I really did fall totally in love with her," she says.
Like Lennie, Kaufman has also experienced loss in her life, so she knows what it's like to deal with grief. "It felt really natural and easy to just fall into her shoes because I loved how relatable her story is," Kaufman adds. "Grief and loss, first love and being a teenager, just trying to find herself. Those are all things that everybody goes through as humans."
"Grief is such a complicated feeling that you never know how it's really going to affect you, and it's just really cool seeing Lennie's journey with that."
The movie finds a delicate balance between love and loss. However, Decker notes that finding the proper tone of those two themes was a big challenge. In the film, Lennie, along with all her friends and family, is going through the stages of grief; bouncing back and forth between sadness and anger, all while she's trying to sort through her feelings for Joe. For Kaufman, Lennie's reactions are a normal part of any teenager's life and worth exploring with grace. "She's such a teenage girl who's just all over the place, but she embraces it," Kaufman adds. "And I love that the movie totally explores that. You can feel this roller coaster that she's on . . . grief is such a complicated feeling that you never know how it's really going to affect you, and it's just really cool seeing Lennie's journey with that."
Image Source: Apple
"The Sky Is Everywhere" dives deep into Lennie's vivid imagination, leaning into the playful, magical realism that's weaved throughout the film — something Decker hoped to explore as a departure from the psychological films she's done in the past. "One of the things that drew me in [about the script] was you're in Lennie's mind so much," Decker tells us. "There's so much imagination in the film . . . I like films with a lot of subjectivity and freedom in that way. So bringing those to life was a joy. That was maybe one of the things I was most excited about and Jandy had written in these magical moments . . . I just think they give this authenticity and kind of tactile vibe to things. So we try to do a lot of the effects practically and really let the world be this extension of Lennie's emotional state."
Decker points out how the film follows a very "messy process" and hopes that viewers who see the movie are able to identify with Lennie to a degree, finding "solace or companionship on their own journeys of loss." Kaufman also hopes that young women specifically are able to see themselves through her character's transparency.
"I'm hopeful that this movie can hold a bit of that grief and give up space for some kind of comfort and affirmation."
"The Sky Is Everywhere" is a touching story that'll make you pause and reevaluate how you've processed grief in the past, as well as how you choose to address it in the future. But more than that, the film emphasizes the need for community in a time of loss and shows how loving each other can help begin the healing process. "I think everyone to some degree is grieving from what we've lost in these past few years," Decker says. "Even if you haven't lost someone that you love, I think that a lot of people have lost a lot of relationships and community and experiences that they would've had without this pandemic. So I think we have a shared grieving happening as a country right now. And I'm hopeful that this movie can hold a bit of that grief and give up space for some kind of comfort and affirmation."
"The Sky Is Everywhere" is available to stream on Apple TV+ now.