To my dear YA scientific community: I feel the need to begin my examination in a place of astonishment. Because Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere was published in 2010, and its film adaptation was released… today. Twelve years later. How did this happen? I have not researched that question. Why did it take so long? Further inquiry must be made. But honestly, I don’t care, because this movie is MAGIC, and I can only (scientifically) presume that a dozen years was exactly the right amount of time to brew this cinematic gem.
Before we get into my intense analysis, we must begin with the vital first step of any academic pursuit: drinking.
The Official FYA The Sky Is Everywhere Drinking Game
Drink once when:
- Lennie writes a note
- Bailey appears in a scene
- Gram’s roses are mentioned
- The Truthmobile appears
- Big is especially weird yet charming
- Someone plays (or tries to play) an instrument
- Sarah’s outfit is just too fabulous
Drink twice when:
- Wuthering Heights is mentioned
- Someone floats
- You need to drown your tears
Take a shot when:
- Lennie can finally play her clarinet
Now that we’ve established that crucial crux, let’s dive in to what makes this movie so goddamn special! Note that, if you haven’t read the book, there be (super vague) spoilers ahead. And also, I feel the need to disclose that I have not recently revisited Jandy Nelson’s novel, because 10 out of 10 scientists agree, that always leads to disappointment with the adaptation because “OMG I can’t believe they left __ out or changed __,” etc. etc. So if I missed something, feel free to publish an article in an academic journal about it. Or just leave a comment, because here at FYA, we encourage a healthy discourse!
The Cast Is Everywhere
Grace Kaufman as Lennie
I haven’t seen Grace in anything, but WOW, is she sublime as Lennie. Destroyed by grief and desperate for distraction, Lennie could potentially come off as too much, but Grace plays her with a fragile, earnest, warmly relatable* energy, and I bought every single one of her reactions. I also wish I could buy all of her sweaters, especially the green one in the picture above.
*As a scientist, I must record the fact that Lennie doesn’t appear to be wearing makeup in any scene except for one. I applaud that choice!
Jacques Colimon as Joe
Any The Society fans in the house?!! I am OVERJOYED that Jacques is getting work, because dude is disarmingly cute and sweet. While, in the book, Joe seems a little too good to be true, Jacques brings a down-to-earth gravity to him that makes Joe more than a YA Musician Dreamboat.
Cherry Jones as Gram
Bow down to TV royalty, y’all! Or, at the very least, TV presidency. You might know Cherry from her role as President Taylor in 24, and most recently, her cool-as-ice turn on Succession, or from her tons of other credits, but man, does she rule as an eccentric, straight talkin’, kickass gram.
Jason Segel as Big
Jason Segel probably doesn’t need to work, but can we get some kind of petition going that DEMANDS he increase his output? Because, speaking 100% factually, we all need more Jason Segel in our lives. I feel like I’m a bigger fan of Big in the movie than I was in the book, and that is absolutely due to Segel’s charismatic performance.
Pico Alexander as Toby
Toby is a tough one, because he must be sincere in his love for Bailey, but you also need to understand why he’s drawn to Lennie. Although I thought Pico did a good job of being sad and smoldering, I didn’t feel the heat from him that the book character resonated.
Ji-young Yoo as Sarah
I am a HUGE fan of Sarah, and Ji-young (whom you may recognize as Casey in Moxie) did NOT disappoint. Sure, some of her book qualities have been modified (more on that below), but she’s still a dynamite BFF.
The Book Is Everywhere
So, Jandy Nelson wrote the screenplay, and she NAILED IT! I say that with pleasant surprise, because not all book authors are screenwriters. Y’all can trust that she made sure to include all of our favorite aspects* of the novel (says the woman who just told you she hasn’t revisited it recently)—but more importantly, she infuses the film with the feel of the book. The heady bonds of sisterhood, the pure connection between Lennie and Bailey, is marvelously effervescent on screen, but weighty too, and when “the toes knows” is uttered, prepare for goosebumps. And then there’s the heartbreaking exploration of grief, which made me tear up several times (drink drink) and full-on cry at least once. Lennie and Gram and Big are all wrestling with Bailey’s death in different ways, and they come together in a poignant yet searing portrait of how we process death, and how we deal with those emotional phantom limbs of relationships.
*Minor note but in the name of science, I must point out that Sarah isn’t super goth, and her Jeep named Ennui is nowhere to be seen, and yeah, okay, that stings a little.
The Delight Is Everywhere
I’m not familiar with Josephine Decker’s previous work, but damn, was she the perfect choice to direct this movie. With a splash of Michel Gondrey and a dash of Miranda July, Decker enhances the dreamy quality of Jandy Nelson’s writing and intensifies the feelings with playfully exaggerated sequences of swooning and dancing; stop-motion style climaxes; soaring musical experiences; and off-kilter tones that steer clear of twee territory. This is an A24 movie, loud and clear, and I can only hope that they elevate more YA adaptations.
The Design Is Everywhere
Speaking as a scientist, I guarantee that you will want to move in to this movie. Like, forward your mail, pack your bags, and make haste to declare your residency at Gram’s place, because everything is GORGEOUS. The house is cozy and colorful, and the gardens are a splendor, while even basic phone texts show up on screen in a whimsical manner. And don’t get me started on the ice cream stand where Sarah works because IT IS JUST TOO ADORABLE.
The Conclusion Is Everywhere
Upon presenting my research, I feel confident in the case I’ve made for you to watch this adaptation, which truly feels like a scientific miracle: a movie that gets made twelve years after the book is published; a screenplay written by the author who captured the story without being too precious; a stellar cast that didn’t simply phone it in because YA shit is easy money. This is a film that soars, that blazes with emotion, and it bravely puts its heart in your hands. Believe the science, and say yes.