For me, as an avid film person, for a lot of years, I never thought I would have gotten to where I am today within the world of being a ‘critic.’ A few weeks back, I covered the Nashville Film Festival. It was amazing, but today and over the next week, I am tackling one of the biggest festivals of the year, AFI Fest.
So I hope you enjoy this ride along with me as I cover films that range from Short Films to Documentaries to New Auteurs to World Cinema and so much more.
Pink Skies Ahead
A young woman struggles with an anxiety disorder after dropping out of school.
Before I get started, if you battle with anxiety, this movie might be very triggering for you, and remember if afterwords you need someone to talk to, please, my communication lines are always open, and please call the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Here is their website NAMI and here is the number 1-800-950-6264
We are introduced to Winona, who is a loud, over the top character who speaks her mind and isn’t shy about who she is as a person. Throughout our introductory into her character, we see she struggles with listening to anyone, and it’s her way or the highway type of thing.
Here we find out that Winona’s parents are moving out of their house, which causes more anxiety. As a person who deals with anxiety themselves, I understand that one thing that keeps it off your mind is doing a million things at once, which we know only makes it worst, but it works in our heads.
Next, I think the script’s beautiful thing is that so many words are spoken with not a lot being said. Kelly Oxford does a remarkable job of engaging us with the idea of who Winona is and what life is like for her. She breaks it down to make it relatable and puts us to task with the idea of how we handle ourselves and others during situations as such.
I am a sucker for a beautiful color palette and what Charlie Sarroff added to this film was nothing short of majestic. It was like we were venturing off on this psychedelic road trip with this warm, vibrant colors that just popped off from go, and it was mesmerizing to look at throughout.
Finally, while the film takes a little time to get going, it hits hard and fast. Winona’s downfall is hard to watch, and watching her struggle was hard, and Jessica Barden, in the final act of this film, was nothing short of remarkable. The final fifteen minutes of this movie will be something that will haunt you for days, especially if you can relate to what Winona is going through. As we reach the final moment of the film, these are the final words spoken.
Are you okay? You’re alone, you are never alone.
Winona smiles, and the credits hit. It sent chills down my spine and just wrecked me.
When Kelly Oxford wrote this script and was on her hunt for Winona, I would love to pick her brain on what sold her on Jessica Barden because she found an absolute gem of an Winona. Barden is perfect in this movie. She encaptures the characteristics of someone that battles anxiety. Every move that she made was perfectly depicted in what it’s like to walk in the shoes of someone who battles anxiety and mental health issues. Jessica is a name we should all remember because her career is about to take off.
‘Kelly Oxford and Jessica Barden team together for one of the best coming of age films you will see this year.’
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.