Cast: Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens
Director: Noah Hawley
Well, I guess it’s time for Natalie Portman’s annual potentially Oscar-contending performance in a movie that means significantly less than what it intends to. Last year she bravely took on the dumpster fire that was Vox Lux, and it now it looks like she’s on to similar-feeling dumpster fires in Lucy in the Sky. I see the purpose of the movie and having a seasoned actress like Portman in the lead role was a wise decision, but it doesn’t excuse the weak script and convoluted premise. While Hawley still has a bright career ahead of him as a director, his directorial debut is more of a dud than the smashing hit he was hoping for.
The film follows Lucy Cola (Portman), an astronaut who has recently returned from space and is having trouble readjusting to life back on Earth. Determined to go back up to space in the next Apollo mission, Lucy must work harder than ever physically to get into the right shape necessary and must also cope with the reality that nobody in her life can possibly understand what she has gone through while she was in space and the scale of everything around us in the universe. While the events surrounding the plot seem to combine a unique and interesting idea and under the right guidance could show us the stress of a position like an astronaut has on a person, but the movie takes ridiculous turns and showcases Lucy as unpredictable and unstable. It’s almost like the movie took all of the points and characteristics of Joker and gave us the opposite emotional feelings towards the film. In Joker, you don’t agree with his actions but you understand his intentions because they are instinctively human in nature. In Lucy in the Sky, because of Lucy’s unique profession and the circumstances surrounding her goals, it’s very hard for the audience to understand her situation and support her from a place of empathy. With all of that in mind, Portman still delivers a strong performance and continues to dominate almost every movie she’s in. Her Texas accent isn’t ever distracting or openly annoying and helps add a level of authenticity and realism to the character. Even though the story doesn’t give Portman a whole lot to work with, she manages to traverse this rocky script and provide a performance that would’ve made a better film truly stand out in the best way possible. If Portman wants to ever win another Academy Award or be recognized as the amazingly gifted actress that she is, she really should re-evaluate which roles she takes on when she makes her late-year awards push. By virtue of her natural talent alone, having Portman in your movie automatically makes it something that festivals and critic circles should keep their eye on. With Lucy in the Sky, Portman took another risk and ended up short again. Combine this with strange and distracting cinematography and you have a movie that had all the potential in the world to stand out and ended up being one of the biggest duds of the awards season.
Overall, I’m sure Hawley would’ve liked to have a more dynamic and well-received directorial debut, however the final product that Hawley created for our eyes never lives up to the hype. I completely believe that somewhere beyond the details Hawley and Portman could’ve teamed up and made a deep and impactful movie that showed us a reality that many of us could never imagine, but instead the movie tries to be too smart for its own good and ends up saying nothing at all.
Overall Score: 3.5/10