Life ain’t too sweet for Sweetness O’Hara (Zoe Kravitz).
Adolescence is supposed to be an age of innocence where teenagers can be careless and carefree and responsible parents will act, well, responsibly. But for many teens especially those of the urban inner-city upbringing, circumstances force an early exit out of adolescence and a premature entrance into lifestyles of the post PG-13.
In Yelling to the Sky, c’est la vie for Queens-bred Sweetness.
Her family life – starring her drunken Irishman father, mentally absent mother, and pregnant older sister – is in disarray. Tasked with fetching her mother’s handbag and stitching her father’s head wound, Sweetness often finds herself doing the parenting rather than being parented.
Her school life fares no better. Her duck-taped shoes and bi-racial background make it impossible to fit in.
Plus, there are mean girls.
In the face of these tensions, Sweetness, much like the typical teen, opts to survive the only way she knows how – in rebellion.
Falling from innocence to rebelliousness, Sweetness smokes, drinks, deals drugs, stays out until the wee hours of morning, crushes on a boy, and transforms her outer appearance to fit this adopted rebel persona. If the coming of age genre has boxes, Sweeetness checks all of them. Given that this road has been traveled, director Victoria Mahoney’s semi-autobiographical film could perhaps use a greater injection of embellishment while meandering through Sweetness’s trials and errors.
Just as Sweetness’s life seems to be avalanching out of control, it boomerangs back – alongside her mother’s return and her father’s sobriety.
The film ends on a hopeful note, not just for Sweetness, but for all the alone and confused New York teens Mahoney senses are on the brink of implosion.
Adolescence may not escape them completely.
For all their wild-and-crazy acting out, their precarious yelling to the sky, there may actually be someone out there who will eventually hear them. And if they’re lucky, that someone will yell back.
Stars: Zoe Kravitz, Jason Clarke, Tim Blake Nelson, Antonique Smith,