Zach Sobiech had a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. He passed away in May of 2013 at the young age of 18. Before his death, Sobiech recorded the song "Clouds" and posted it on YouTube in December of 2012.
The video quickly went viral and now has 15 million views. The movie, titled after his hit song, was released on Disney+ Oct. 16. Director Justin Baldoni (Jane the Virgin) set out on a mission to share Sobiech's story. The two grew close while Baldoni was directing Zach's episode in the My Last Days YouTube series. At the end of the movie, there is real home footage of Sobiech where you can see how much the film parallels his life.
The movie takes you on the rollercoaster of Zach's journey as he fights osteosarcoma. It is a blend of sad, honest and heartwarming. I admire most how the film does not gloss over the hardships of fighting such a horrific illness. Clouds captured the reality of what it is like to know you are dying.
Zach is physically gradually declining, but he also must cope with all he will not be able to do, like not going to college or growing his relationship with girlfriend Amy Adamle (Madison Iseman). However, amidst the challenges, his overall attitude is incredibly admirable.
He maintains an uplifting perspective, continuously cracking jokes and making everyone smile. You see the tough emotional challenge of knowing a loved one has limited time through the supporting characters. For example, Sobiech's parents (Neve Campbell and Tom Everett Scott) struggle with the fact they cannot stop their son's eventual death. But, in the scenes they do their best to stay strong and find joy in the everyday.
Cliché blockbuster teen movies like The Fault in Our Stars and Me Before You craft intensely romantic plotlines centered around terminal illness.
In Clouds, Zach and Amy's relationship is not picture-perfect. Instead, it is authentic. They fall in love, argue, and even break up for a bit, but they come back to each other in the end.
After learning he has less than a year to live, Zach (Fin Angus) sets out to fulfill his dream of creating music with his best friend, Sammy Brown (Sabrina Carpenter). The two, determined and supportive, write music together and perform the songs in YouTube videos.
Later, they get the opportunity through Zach's beloved mentor and teacher Milton Weaver (Lil Rel Howery) to sign with Broadcast Music Inc. There is a car joyride, a trip to France and a prom/graduation/concert mashup- I'll stop there to not give too much away. There is so much more I could say, but see for yourself in the Disney+ movie.
Clouds will have you drawn in from the opening scene, telling an authentic, inspiring and captivating story while carrying the incredibly important message, "you do not have to find out you're dying to start living."