In Brief: Lucy is such a disappointment and falls out of the sky almost immediately.
Natalie Portman stars as Lucy Cola. She’s married to a really nice guy. He dotes on her. She tries but isn’t all that into him. Lucy does — however — love her grandmother and her niece. Grandma is a piece of work and the niece is pretty much ignored by her n’er-do-well, deadbeat dad so Lucy and her hubby end up take care of her a lot.
Oh, and Lucy is also an astronaut. We first meet Lucy on the last few minutes of a spacewalk. She’s staring at the Earth below. It’s beautifully hypnotic and she’s enthralled by its beauty and is struck about how small we are, and how small the planet is when compared to the vastness of space.
Like most astronauts, Lucy comes back to lots of praise and regular people are in awe of her. However, Lucy comes back a little unhinged. Soon after she arrives back on Earth we meet Jon Hamm’s Mark Goodwin. He’s a fellow astronaut and a player. Goodwin invites Lucy to an exclusive bowling outing that can only be attended by those who’ve been in space.
The real reason for the invitation is because he wants to — and does — get into her pants.
As we get to know Lucy we discover that she’s a driven and flawed human being. She loved being in space so much that Lucy will do almost anything to get back there and get back there quickly. It’s the only place she’s ever been where she didn’t have to try to be someone else.
As the movie moves forward, that flaw becomes more evident and Lucy behaves more and more erratically. It worries her husband. It worries her NASA bosses. And eventually, Lucy implodes.
So does the movie. Only it implodes not too long after Lucy lands. That’s not much of a surprise because there isn’t much to the story. A woman goes into space and wants to go back. A woman is unhappy with her marriage. A woman has an affair with a guy and when he falls for someone else, she goes totally off the deep end.
It turns out Lucy was also deeply unhappy with life, and driven to succeed, and who and what she is, and all she can ever be is tied up on how much she accomplishes.
The saddest part of Lucy in the Sky is the waste of a mega-talented cast. This is especially true of Portman. She’s an incredible actress totally miscast in this role. Lucy is a Southern belle and Portman does a lousy Southern accent. Sometimes she has it and sometimes it is gone.
Not that it matters all that much. The accent is the least of this movie’s worries.
Lucy in the Sky is based on a true story. You might want to Google news items on the real astronaut. Her story is just about as interesting as this highly fictionalized version of what happened.
The astronaut is Lisa Nowak. In 2006 Nowak spent almost two weeks in space. Her in space experience is similar to the Lucy of this movie. Nowak spacewalked several times. Then she had an affair with a fellow astronaut and when a rival for his affection appeared, Nowak allegedly wanted to kill her.
What made this headline news — she disputes this — is that Nowak allegedly wore some sort of diaper that made 20-some hours without a pit stop trip to Florida, comfortable. The get up helped her avoid those annoying restroom pitstops while on her way to kill her over the man she coveted.
This is how writer/director Noah Hawley (the creator of TV’s Fargo) and his co-writers Brian C. Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi imagine Nowak’s motives. Of course the names have to be changed to protect the innocent or some such thing. Or is it to keep from being sued? Or — try this — other than the sadly laughable diaper thing, Nowak’s story is terribly boring and they thought a little bit of fiction might help pump it up.
It didn’t. Not even close.
Here’s my conclusion. Ground control to Major Tom. Lucy in the Sky has no diamonds. Those knowing rock music get the references. If you don’t, Google the lyric references. It’s certainly going to be more fun and more interesting than this movie.
And if I’m Paul McCartney — whose name is on the song done by The Beatles on their Sgt. Pepper’s album — I’d think about suing.
Director: Noah Hawley
Stars: Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Pearl Amanda Dickson, Dan Stevens, Ellen Burstyn, Colman Domingo, Jeremiah Birkett, Jeffrey Donovan, Tig Notaro
Rated R for mature themes and language. Nothing about this movie is remotely interesting. In fact, a documentary on Lisa Nowak might be a better venue for telling this story. Give this a 1 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.