By Stina Chyn | September 12, 2005

What would you do if you were in a bank or a convenient store when masked gunmen barged in and took everyone hostage? How would you react if you were walking to your car alone at night and you could hear someone following you? Thanks to countless television dramas, action films, and suspense-thrillers, you’ve probably at least brainstormed what you would do in those situations. Death of loved ones, however, has typically only been explored in terms of a fatal illness, an accident, or murder. Successful suicides—not in the form of assisted suicide—are not as frequently addressed and are rarely depicted. Without a reference or philosophical catalyst from a pop-culture medium, you may have only thought about why you would or wouldn’t kill yourself rather than how you would feel if your best friend or your partner ended his or her own life. Writer-director Carl T. Evans knows what he would do, feel, and say because he has first-hand experience with how profoundly a person can be affected by the situation portrayed in his film “Walking on the Sky”.

Taking place primarily on and in an apartment in Manhattan, six friends come together to grieve and make sense of the news that one of their own killed himself by jumping off the top of his building. “Walking on the Sky” starts with Sara (Susan Misner) anxiously trying to reach her circle of friends but nobody is home. She grows more desperate with each message she has to leave on another machine (not only is she the first one to find out about the tragedy but she was also the ex-fiancee). Shortly thereafter, Joann (Kristen Marie Holly) finds the teary-eyed, near-hysterical Sara on the rooftop. One by one the others arrive: Liz (Nicole Fonarow), Jim (Chris Henry Coffey), Dylan (Evans), and Nick (Randall Batinkoff).

As they congregate in their late friend Josh’s (Michael Knowles) apartment to console each other, the desire to want to understand why he committed suicide leads to discovering more information than they needed. Implied that he hasn’t been around, Dylan offers to help Liz with making funeral arrangements. She tells him to find Josh’s address book. Dylan heads to the bedroom and finds a diary. Initial insistence on respecting their friend’s privacy is overridden as the temptation of attaining clarity grows too strong for the group to resist. Each takes turns reading a section of the journal; the content is “re-enacted” in the form of flashbacks.

With the kind of story that is told in “Walking on the Sky,” it is extremely important that the actors are able to portray their characters with sincerity, to give the film a more authentic psychological tone. The cast is genuine in their emotions, the film depicts them that way, and the camera doesn’t feel compelled to go hand-held crazy—which is refreshing. There are subtle movements in the horizontal plane, which add a layer of dimension to the image, but Evans realizes that the “realism” of image can just as easily be expressed through the acting.

It’s a sociological and psychological fact that people are not always themselves with everyone. Furthermore, specific people draw out or diminish an aspect of one’s personality or behavior. Consequently, a person doesn’t necessarily confide in all of his or her friends. “Walking on the Sky” claims that no matter how much the truth can potentially upset you, relationships you have will be better in the long run if you open more of yourself to everyone that is close to you.

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