Guest post by Melanie Woods
Comm/marketing professional, adjunct comm professor, NFL junkie - GO COLTS, art collector, proud Indy resident
In college, my roommates liked to mess with my stuff. They would rearrange my DVD collection (which was in alphabetical order) or move things around on my desk (which was always perfectly arranged). When I got home, they would see how long it would take me to notice and freak out (which was never too long).
My OCD tendencies are nothing compared to those of Maggie, the main character in AS HIGH AS THE SKY. The opening sequence quickly establishes Maggie’s routine of making sure things are where they are supposed to be. Her house is impeccable but there are hints that not everything is in place in her life. She wakes up looking embarrassed to be cuddling a pillow and quickly puts it back on the other side of the bed. The manly voice on her answering machine informs callers that “we” can’t come to the phone, but Maggie lives alone.
You can’t help but wonder what Maggie is trying to suppress. There’s clearly more to this character but writer and director Nikki Braendlin takes her time revealing the layers. This plot is somewhat of a slow burner but the payoff is worth it in the end, when you will be grateful for a dark theatre to hide the fact that you may be tearing up (which you probably will be).
Maggie’s world of order and control is disrupted when her sister Josephine and niece Hannah drop in for an unannounced visit. Maggie welcomes them into her home but is visibly anxious as they scatter their stuff around and settle in. Josephine is the polar opposite of Maggie. She’s 13 years older, loud, carefree, tattooed and smokes weed. She and her 10-year-old daughter have one of those “you and me against the world” relationships. The father isn’t in the picture but they are doing just fine without him.
It’s not clear how long it’s been since the sisters last saw each other. Their parents died in a car crash when Josephine was 17. She took off, leaving 4-year-old Maggie to be raised by her aunts. Maggie and Josephine seem awkward around each other at first and Hannah is noticeably uncomfortable with her aunt’s eccentric behavior.
Over the course of their stay, the trio breaks down their emotional barriers and finds a way to connect. There are a few moments when Maggie lets herself lose control and actually has fun with her family. And as the viewer, you’ll feel yourself relaxing and smiling along with her. The sisters share a genuine moment when Josephine apologizes for abandoning Maggie and Maggie says she never blamed her for leaving. They solidify their sisterly bond but it may be too late to matter.
“As High as the Sky” is one of those movies where you don’t know everything, but once you know what you do, you look back at various events in the film with a different perspective. It’s not a particularly unique plot but the characters are well-developed and you end up fully invested in what will happen to them at the end of the movie (which is why you should pack some Kleenex).
The 2013 Indianapolis International Film Festival will take place July 18 to 28. Secure your tickets now for AS HIGH AS THE SKY.