Film review: Lucy in the Sky

This ambitious drama leaves our critic underwhelmed


In Lucy In The Sky, Natalie Portman stars as Lucy Cola, an astronaut struggling to come to terms with her return to earth after a lengthy space mission. Directed by Noah Hawley, this ambitious, but flawed drama is loosely based on an infamous incident which saw real-life astronaut Lisa Nawak arrested after the attempted kidnapping of a love rival in 2007.

When we first meet Lucy (Portman) she is about to complete her very first space mission for NASA. Back on Earth, the young woman finds it increasingly difficult to reacclimatise to her normal life, and feels detached from her loved ones, including her doting husband Drew (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens in terrific form) and straight-talking grandmother (Ellen Burstyn)

Things are further complicated when Lucy is pursued and seduced by Mark Goodwin (Jon Hamm at his smarmy best) a handsome and recently separated fellow astronaut. After failing to make the cut for the next space mission, Lucy who by now has fallen head-over-heels for Mark, is further infuriated by her lover’s seemingly blossoming relationship with younger female astronaut Erin (a beautifully understated turn by Zazie Beetz).

Noah Hawley, known to most for his stellar work as showrunner on Fargo (the hugely popular TV adaptation of the Coen brother’s iconic 1996 film), presents an interesting take on the transformative nature of space travel and its effects on those who experience it. Sadly though, there isn’t enough here in the way of a plot, or much else really, to warrant the film’s excessive two hour running time. 

British cinematographer Polly Morgan (Legion) brings a great deal of mystique and magical realism to the proceedings, but  is unable to save this ill-thought-out production from being  dull and easily forgotten.

Portman shines as a woman whose determination and drive took her all the way to space, but who despite all her bravado was ill-equipped to deal with the transcendent nature of looking down on her own life from above.

On top of suffering greatly from a tragic case of style-over-substance, Lucy In The Sky also fails to give enough of a reason for its existence beyond the thrill and titillation of delving into the story behind the salacious headlines. A disappointing undertaking from a filmmaker who is capable of far greater things. 

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