Yelling to the Sky (BLU-RAY)

Yelling to the Sky

On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 36 Minutes

Yelling to the Sky is a mess. It is a meandering story about a girl growing up and making lots of wrong choices, and dealing with those choices. And yet, despite it being a hard, grim and bleak tale, there is a strength of vision here that captures the life of this one girl.

They say...

17-year old Sweetness O'Hara (Zoë Kravitz), the daughter of mixed race parents, is struggling to find her place in the rough neighborhood she reluctantly calls home. Her father is either absent or abusive, her racial background makes her an outsider in the community, and drugs and violence abound. When she finds herself in a downward spiral of dealing, shoplifting, and fighting, Sweetness learns she must take her life into her own hands in order to create the future she dreams of. Gabourey Sidibe and Tim Blake Nelson round out the cast of this gripping urban drama, which proves that in order to become an adult, you must first survive as a teenager.

I say...

The story of Yelling to the Sky isn't constructed the way other movies are. There isn't a clear throughline of "girl struggling to get out". Instead it seeks to simply capture moments of Sweetness's life as she deals with her father, her mother, her sister, her friends, her enemies, her schooling, and everything. And despite at times feeling like nothing more than a piling on of every possible bad thing, the film manages to feel real. Authentic.

For me, the two best elements of the film come from Tim Blake Nelson as Coleman and Jason Clarke as Gordon. Coleman is the school counselor and even in the face of everything he knows about her, and he knows plenty, he still doesn't give up on Sweetness. And Gordon, Sweetness's father, who early in the film is painted as an abusive drunk, sees his daughter hit bottom and it is the wake up call he needs to become a better father.

Victoria Mahoney as the writer and director has made something good here. Her first feature film is laden with moody vignettes, many of which wordlessly capture moments that elevate the film.

If my review seems scattered, then it mirrors the movie. It's a film that jumps around as people step into and out of Sweetness's life and as her life passes through different phases. I don't believe I would have ever sought this movie out, and having seen it I'm unsure I would ever feel the need to watch it again, but I'm certainly not unhappy at having watched it.

The Blu-ray contains an interview with Victoria Mahoney and another featurette called "Yelling Graffiti" about using graffiti as marketing.

Review by Jason Pace
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