The Sky Is Falling

Unfortunately, The Sky Is Falling is not currently
on VHS or DVD. Look for it on cable and enjoy

One of my main interests in films has for a long time been the little independent film. Working on little budget, uncertain distribution and most importantly, a vision of creating a good film, the cast and crew of these films usually care more about their art than box office receipts. Recently, I viewed a film that is in this category, The Sky is Falling. What drew me to The Sky Is Falling was the main actress, DeDee Pfeiffer. She is the sister of Michelle and often considered in her shadow. The Sky Is Falling demonstrates that she is a real talent on her own.

The Sky Is Falling is intriguing; Pfeiffer plays Emily Hall, an aspiring young author who is approaching the ten-anniversary reunion of her high school. This forces her to take stock in her life. She has been involved with the same man since high school yet they are not married, not even living together. She has just received 50 rejection letters for her first novel. Unemployed with little hopes for a career she faces the realization that she is not certain which direction her life should follow. To make matters worse all her girlfriends from high school are successful. One is pregnant, another just promoted and yet another is balancing career and marriage. She turns to her mother (Terri Garr) for help but finds more problems there. Her mom is a self-proclaimed psychic who drops a bomb on poor Emily. Her father is not who she thought, he was a one night stand the mother had, This man, Yogi (Howard Hesseman) comes into Emily’s life and she finds he has multiple personality disorder. Along the way Emily is cornered into volunteering for a program in a hospital where she brings her dog, Sam, to terminal patients. This becomes the means to redirect her thoughts away from the increasing fantasies of suicide to the realization that her life is not only better than she imagined but that she had intrinsic worth as a person.

The Sky Is Falling has the ability to touch the audience on an emotional level. It does this by virtue of its simplicity. While generously sprinkled with comic moments, the script provides a realistic look at a young woman at a vital crossroad in her life. We have all been there. Many of us have looked back at such moments and wondered what our lives would be if we made a slightly different decision. Here, we see Emily in the process of making decisions that will affect her life not only on the grand scale but in the details, the little things. There is almost an immediate empathy with Emily. The audience can connect with her on the most human levels. There are no action scenes here, no gratuitous passion, just honest human emotion. Emily is confused and everywhere she looks for help the situation seems to worsen. As her life spirals out of control she comes to the realization that it is not so much out of control as it is misdirected. The villain of this film is not some bad guy clique but rather a person’s own anticipation. What happens to Emily reminds me of a lyric from a John Lennon song, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’. Among the more comic moments are ironically Emily’s fantasies of suicide. Emily looks on as a third person as she imagines taking her own life. While this may seem to be a poor source of comic relief the manner in which it is presented works. One scene she imagines slitting her wrists. Then she realizes that she cringes when she gets a paper cut. In another scene she hopes it is possible to end her life with a chocolate overdose. The audience can tell these are not serious considerations just the means Emily chose to divert her mind from her seemingly hopeless situation.

The director of this gem is not someone that you will most likely recognize, Florrie Laurence. As with many indy directors she wore several hats during the production of this film. She also penned the screenplay. Laurence has paid her dues and gained a lot of experience with her previous work on other films. She has worked as an Assistant Director on several films including The Fifth Element. She was the Assistant Sound editor on the Doors and now she has decided to strike out on her own and it demonstrates the promise that her career holds. Her style is straightforward. There are no ‘artsy’ cuts, pans or lighting tricks. What you get is a realistic view of the changes Emily is going through. The insertion of the several suicide fantasy sequences is very well done. We see Emily looking over her body and deciding if this was the way she should precede. The pacing of the film is wonderful. A film like The Sky Is Falling runs the danger of dragging the audience down with a preachy attitude or overly long expository material. Instead, The Sky Is Falling presents a story that holds your interest and flows smoothly.

While The Sky Is Falling is basically a one-woman vehicle the ancillary cast is not relegated to the background. They present the back-story and set up the premise in a natural manner. Laurence has the talent necessary to bring the audience into the main character’s life in a tender, emotional manner. We get to care for Emily, we are concerned with what happens to her because she is presented as a reflection of many of our own insecurities. This is only possible with the synthesis of the acting talents of Ms Pfeiffer and the directing and writing abilities of Ms Laurence. The Sky Is Falling represents the best of independent film, the ability to tell a story without the all to typical Hollywood reliance of special effects and digital remix.

Bottom line is if you are interested in spending a little while in someone else’s life, The Sky Is Falling is for you. Some may find it ‘sappy’ but there is nothing wrong with a film that invokes real emotions in its audience. I found this film a cut above the usual faire. I may have stumbled upon it late one night on cable but I was glad I had the foresight to tape it and add it to my collection. Unfortunately, the film is not currently on VHS or DVD. Look for The Sky Is Falling on cable and enjoy.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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