A man flies his drone out at a local field when the small machine encounters another drone in the air. The two devices have a bit of a dance duet in the sky, leading the man to the other drone’s owner, a woman and similarly passionate drone enthusiast.
Though both socially awkward, they bond over drones, talking and getting to know one another — and before they know it, they’re in love. And throughout an afternoon, they hit the highs and lows of an epic romance.
Directed by Jay Dockendorf from a script co-written with Saturday Night Live writer Will Stephen, this quirky romantic comedy starts with a lush, nostalgically romantic ballad playing over a bucolic scene of a man walking alone through a green, verdant field. Though the film has the trappings of romantic comedy from the beginning, its almost retro visual touches, emphasizing 70s-style zooms and pans, indicate there’s something more eccentric going on under the surface for both the characters and the film as a whole.
The writing seems to set up a quirky, unconventional romance between two slightly odd people, whose tics and awkwardness belie a universal desire for romance and connection. They make charming confessions to one another, sharing stories of their lives as they walk in the park. But then the storytelling takes an unexpected turn, and in place of sharing a kiss, they share… a dental accessory.
From there, the narrative plays with the tension between offbeat humor and gooey love, falling into the rom-com formula but then subverting it with strange choices and flourishes. The performances, too, tread the line between sincerity and irony, often from moment to moment. Actors Heidi Gardner (from Saturday Night Live) and Will Stephen have an understated arch quality, though there are flickers of committed feelings to keep the action grounded. (Though it’s actor Zach Cherry, who pops up as a not-so-random cop, who has a sweetness and amiability that adds a warm brightness to the film.) The central couple is fun to watch together, as they hit all the socially and culturally conditioned milestones of storybook romance, in their unique way.
“See You In the Sky” ends with a wedding ring, but like much of the film, it fulfills the genre expectations with a subversive wink, undercutting our expectations and even longings for romance. In doing so, it interrogates the expectations of love and courtship themselves, not just in stories but perhaps in our lives. “See You In the Sky” may frustrate viewers who want at least a few straightforward moments of romantic connection, but it gently causes us to question just why we want them in these particular ways in the first place.