When you look at the trailers for Lucy in the Sky, it showed to have some promising. Director and co-write Noah Hawley makes his feature directorial debut here, and he’s been well-established as the showrunner for two programs on FX’s such as Fargo and Legion. Now that he’s recently been hired to write and direct the upcoming Star Trek movie, it’s clear that nobody saw this when this was a misguided attempt to be creative and missed the mark.
Inspired loosely by true events that happened with Lisa Nowak, astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) returns to Earth after a transcendent experience during a mission to space, and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too small.
This was written by Hawley along with Brain C. Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi, and this has got to be one of the messiest scripts that never get interesting enough to see how someone coming back from space facing challenges in everyday life. That’s interesting to watch. Those who don’t know, Nowak was involved in an extramarital affair with another NASA astronaut and kidnapped the woman who was romantically involved with the male astronaut. The reports about her wearing an adult diaper didn’t make it in, unfortunately.
I didn’t know about this until recently. For two hours, nothing about this was fully interesting when it was completely boring to the point of actually checking how long this was, only to realize it’s only been 35 minutes. Truthfully, I forgot what was happening since the plot was completely unfocused and couldn’t set on a consistent tone when following this character’s struggles and not caring for even a second. It’s more interesting to read about Lisa Nowak and what was going on than watching another second of this.
Seeing that Hawley is a stylish direction is understandable, but what was the reason for the movie to have different aspect ratios shifting throughout the first two acts? Distracting as it may seem, I believe it served no purpose to a lot of the scenes that aren’t important to use that style. Not to the point of annoyance when Transformers: The Last Knight constantly threw those in, but in here, it didn’t make the movie better in the slightest. Just his directing, in general, felt like an art-house film that failed to be engaging and more pretentious.
As much as I adore Portman as an actress, feeling a kind of connection towards her character was non-existent even with that Texas accent she tried to pull off. Reese Witherspoon was originally attached to the role (still has a producing credit), so who knows if she would have worked better. Not only her, but this has the likes of Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, and Ellen Burstyn as Lucy’s grandmother are given nothing note-worthy to work with. Dan Stevens as Lucy’s supportive husband Drew is basically a live-action version of Ned Flanders, as one of my friends was funny enough to point out before watching it, and it felt so ridiculous for someone to act that way.
Lucy in the Sky is not only a major disappointment for someone that thought it would be good, but it ended up becoming one of the worst movies 2019 offers. You would think someone like Hawley could make a compelling drama and not something this awful. Probably a smart move that Fox Searchlight didn’t mark this as a wide release since nobody would be interested in this for absolutely no reason. Even the title is a disgrace to The Beatles song. At least there’s still Ad Astra if you want to watch a better space drama to spend your time on. Grade: F