WHEN French tourist Romy (Diane Kruger) repeatedly bashes her drunk – and sexually aggressive – husband Richard (Gilles Lellouche) over the head with a motel lamp shade, you feel as though the direction of Fabienne Berthaud’s film has been laid out.
This will be the tale of a foreign outlaw on the run through small-town America. Judging by the film’s open road introduction, Sky will riff off beloved American crime stories like Thelma and Louise – and will hinge on the impossibility of Romy staying hidden with her unmissable Hollywood blonde beauty and French accent.
Yet Berthaud’s film takes an eyebrow-raising turn on the road. After a few days on the run, Romy has a change of heart and turns herself in to the police. Fortunately, Richard is alive and – after a brief hospital interaction – Romy decides to leave their sexless and broken 8-year marriage for a new life in America.
What unfolds next is a more subdued and introspective story than initially teased as Romy strikes up a relationship in Las Vegas that helps her reconnect with a world that has treated her cruelly. A journey that, similar to Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, sets the poetic beauty of nature against the human decay of rusty, poverty-stricken America. In Romy’s case, this becomes part of a healing and purpose-finding process as she continues to be troubled by nightmares about miscarriages she has suffered in the past.
Kruger – collaborating once again with Berthaud – is faultless and has a magnetic on-screen presence. A force that you cannot help but feel is wasted at times – especially when gravelly cowboy figure Diego (Norman Reedus), who looks like Lord of the Rings’ Boromir after a few rough nights in Vegas, enters the frame. Their relationship does not hit the emotional notes it feigns to – and the film suffers as a result.
Sky is still an interesting enough film – but it certainly has its limits.
Sky is available to watch now on Sky Cinema.
This was review 18/30 in April’s Close-up Culture Monthly Challenge – Female Filmmakers.