Depictions of the American frontier are no strangers to the cinema. It’s normally filled with the cliché good guys vs. bad guys motif and set among a romanticised backdrop of a time forgotten, where there is always a shining beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak surrounding world. In Sky, our bleak world revolves around Romy (Diane Kruger) and her strained, difficult marriage to Richard (Gilles Lellouche) as they vacation around the modern frontier of the United States. After one drunken night shatters this French couple’s already failing marriage, Romy leaves her husband and embarks on her own adventure across the States, enjoying her new-found freedom away from what seemed to be a toxic relationship.
However, the problem is her freedom is fairly short lived. And since the crux of the film revolves around Romy and the decisions she makes, the unfortunate theme of Romy’s freedom gets engulfed in a baffling love story as she meets and falls for Diego (The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus) in Las Vegas, entering into a brand-new relationship that walks the line between passion and emotional abuse. The film is ultimately doomed to fail as we want to give Romy the benefit of the doubt (mostly thanks to the wonderful Diane Kruger), but are given very little reason to do so with her rash decisions. The poor character development in the first act leaves her feeling hasty and impulsive, as though she has learned nothing from previous consequences.
While the beginning offers an interesting and slow disintegration of this couple (almost in the vein of Hitchcock and the way that thrillers of yesteryear were crafted), there is a sudden change that causes Romy to flee marks the start of a downhill roll. As she relies on the kindness of strangers to get her through her time alone, the pacing of the film starts to slow drastically with each stop she makes in her new adventure.
The whole emotional premise of the film relies on the audience buying this love story between her and Diego, who mistakes her for a prostitute when he enters the picture. However (at least for me), Diego is an impossible character to like due to the lethargic way Reedus approaches his delivery. He offers nothing to the audience to make him remotely likeable or relatable. Diego admits to only sleeping with prostitutes, he is emotionally impossible to crack and portrays himself as a control freak who disregards the feelings of the people close to him. The only characteristic that may make him likeable and excuse his actions is buried late in the film as a twist that is foreshadowed far too much and is presented far too late to save the character.
Sky had great potential with an engaging opening and some beautiful cinematography of the modern American frontier by Nathalie Durand (Le Week-End). Director Fabienne Berthaud’s (Lily Sometimes) perception of this part of the world is one of great optimism (quite the contrary to the modern frontier that was presented in 2016’s Nocturnal Animals), with the hopeful Romy eyeing an escape and many people taking her in out of sheer kindness. Thankfully, Kruger is nothing short of amazing, almost single-handedly carrying the film in my eyes, while many strong supporting actors (Lena Dunham, Lou Diamond Phillips, Josh Jackson) are given roles that resemble cameos more than anything.
Honestly, by the end of the film the only wonder that is left in you is if Romy’s terrible taste in men will continue in her life, and how long she has overstayed her Visa.
THE REEL SCORE: 4/10