Liza, Liza, Skies Are Grey is a coming-of-age movie set in Los Angeles during the 60’s. Young men face the reality of being drafted to Vietnam and may never come home. In the meantime, everyone else has the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over their heads.
Liza (Mikey Madison) is a 15-year-old high school student, who lives with her narcissistic mother (Kristin Minter) with a massive victim complex. At home, Liza is constantly on edge because her mother interprets Liza’s every word, action, and thought as a personal attack on herself. Liza’s only solace is at school with her boyfriend, Brett (Sean H. Scully).
As with all movies about young love, Brett tells Liza that he is moving across the country in a few days to live with his father. Liza tells Brett that she wants to be his first sexual encounter. The two young virgins run away on a motorcycle excursion up the coast of California to find the right moment and the right spot.
“You have to be patient to find these small gems…”
Throughout the trip, Liza and Brett struggle over actually going through with their plans, or finding the right time and place and even ponder the potential consequences of their decision. Their romantic road trip takes them to a commune, a dangerous encounter with bikers, and a seedy motel meeting. It’s as if fate was trying to keep the young lovers apart. Unfortunately, these moments are not staged well nor acted well, which lessens any sense of danger.
Mikey Madison’s portrayal of Liza is the highlight of this film. Her performance feels genuine as the conflicted teen scared of always disappointing the authority figures in her life, especially her mother. She also elevates the performance of her co-star, Sean H. Scully, who offers a performance of stilted teenage angst.
Remove the poorly staged conflicts, Liza, Liza Skies Are Grey is a sweet story of teenage love. Writer/director Terry Sanders manages to make the Liza and Brett dialogue sound like adolescents. Their talk of not wanting to get pregnant and why Liza wants to be Brett’s first is important to her come across as well reasoned and faithful to the characters. You have to be patient to find these small gems.
From a filmmaking standpoint, I admired the attempt to recreate 60s LA on an independent film budget. Shots, locations, and sets gave the feel of a story of the past. Unfortunately, the slow pace and melodramatic dialogue gave the film a made-for-television vibe.
Liza, Liza, Skies Are Grey (2017) Directed by Terry Sanders. Written by: Terry Sanders: Starring: Mikey Madison and Sean H. Scully.
3 out of 5