As High as the Sky

August 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Released: 2012; Written and Directed by: Nikki Braendlin; With: Caroline Fogarty, Bonnie McNeil, Laurel Porter, Dee Wallace, Jenny O’Hara, Lainee Gram

As High as the Sky is a heartwarming tale about estranged sisters, one of whom which suffers from a nasty case of OCD, while the other is a nomadic single mother.  Josephine (Bonnie McNeil) shows up on Margaret’s Cali doorstep one day, her daughter Hannah (Laurel Porter) in tow, and a big smile on her friendly face.  Margaret (Caroline Fogarty), a professional party-planner, responds to the surprise visit by straightening the hell out of her pillows.  And smiling awkwardly.  As the narrative grows in complexity, so do the relationships, making this a truly enjoyable emotional celluloid ride. 

McNeil and Fogarty have great chemistry.  Fogarty is given a really meaty sandwich of a role to chew on here and she does a lot with it.  It could be hard not to allow these roles to become too precious, but both McNeil and Fogarty succeed admirably in fighting that and this movie only benefits from it.  Porter is a delight as Josephine’s daughter.  She strikes a lovely balance between overly mature prepubescent and krazy kid.

Technically this movie is cleanly shot, in a fantastic parallel to Margaret’s affliction.  All the camera work is even, sharp, and focused.  Fogarty is as riveting physically as she is emotionally, moving deliberately, even bringing her water tumbler to her mouth with purpose.  She folds and stretches her limbs with an objective in mind.  It’s truly fascinating to watch.

This bittersweet movie tells a fragile story about familial relationships and needs.  It’s a really strong narrative and, while it seems delicate in its presentation, like its actresses and the strength of their performances, it packs a wallop. 

— Leah Gehlsen Morlan

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