LUCY IN THE SKY – A Review by Cynthia Flores
There are only really two and a half reasons to see this film. I will list them as I go through my review. The movie is loosely based on the life of astronaut Lisa Nowak. You remember her from the 2007 news stories about her driving from Houston, Texas to Orlando, Florida wearing maximum absorbency Depends undergarments during the trip so she would get there faster. She planned on kidnapping her astronaut lover William Oefelein, who had broken up with her and was dating another astronaut. It ruined her career with NASA and the Navy.
The star of Lucy In The Sky, Natalie Portman (reason number one to see this film. If you are a fan, she can do no wrong. And the director, Noah Hawley, both have said in interviews that their aim was to keep a woman in a psychological decline from becoming a punchline as she had in real life.
I am guessing that explains the off-kilter serious mood the film swims in. In this film, we meet Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) whose determination and singular drive as an astronaut take her to space. There she is profoundly moved by the transcendent experience of seeing all life and her home from afar. Once she is back with her loving husband Drew (Dan Stevens) and her niece Blue Iris (Pearl Amanda Dickson) she has trouble fitting back into her world. Suddenly, it all feels too small and her connection with reality slowly unravels. She starts up an affair with another astronaut that has been to space and understands how it changes you. The divorced, handsome, and charming Mark Goodwin (Jon Hamm). As he starts to move on to another, younger, astronaut trainee named Erin (Zazie Beetz), Lucy can’t take the rejection. Compounded with the loss of Nana Holbrook (Ellen Burstyn), the woman that raised her. (BTW reason number two to see this film is Ellen Burstyn. She steals the film away from everyone. Her Nana is rough, tough, and to the point.) Once Nana is gone, Lucy goes off the deep end, leaving her husband and taking her niece along with her as she slips farther into madness.
The director of Lucy in the Sky decided to shift between at least four different sizes of the screen during the movie. (This is the last half reason to see the film. It’s shifting aspect ratios. Not too many directors will play with it because it comes off as gimmicky.) What I mean is that the screen literally shifts from 16:9 to 4:3 to what looked like a 2:2 square screen with the edges all out of focus. At times it really works to help give us a sense of what Lucy is feeling totally disconnected from the reality around her on earth. However, at other times it’s very distracting to watch the screen shrink and grow as the story goes forward. I felt like I was watching a film projected on shifting sand.
Lucy In the Sky is a somber, disorienting examination of the loss of sanity. I gave this film a C rating because it didn’t appear to ever settle down long enough visually to make me care about its main character.
Directed by Noah Hawley
Written by Brian C. Brown, Elliott DiGuiseppi, Noah Hawley
Selig Rating C
Running Time 2hr 4min
Drama / Comedy
Limited Release Oct 11th Landmark Magnolia, Angelika Film Center & Cafe – Plano
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens, Pearl Amanda Dickson, Ellen Burstyn
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.