Lucy in the Sky : ‘TIFF’ Review – Never Takes Off
Lucy in the Sky was among my most anticipated films for 2019. After mastering the small screen with the likes of Fargo and Legion, Noah Hawley was making his feature film directorial debut. It would be starring Natalie Portman alongside Jon Hamm. The premise would center around the fictionalization of an interesting true incident. Unfortunately, the film is among the biggest disappointments this year and doesn’t work despite all the talent involved.
Over the years, we’ve seen endless space movies that are visually dazzling and centered around the exploits of astronauts. Lucy in the Sky rests on an intriguing premise that pushes our understanding of the genre and space experience further. What effect, does seeing earth from far enough that it fits in the palm of your hand have on one’s mind? How do you adjust back to regular life after experiencing the rush of being among the stars? How do you rise to the occasion in your mundane routine once you’ve gotten a new perspective on how inconsequential it all is? These are all questions that astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) grapples with on return from her mission to space. This core premise is thematically rich and poses interesting ideas the likes of which I hadn’t seen explored before.
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As the narrative progresses, we see Lucy evolve and make new choices as a changed person. However, the screenplay never finds a steady groove and wanders aimlessly from one sequence to the next. It fails to build any momentum in the plot or deepen our understanding of the characters. I never felt like I was inside Lucy’s mind and able to fully see and process things from her new perspective, even though that ought to have been the drive of the film. The film comes further underdone by the need to reconcile and conclude its narrative with the true-life incident that inspired it which makes for an unfulfilling conclusion.
Even when I wasn’t fully invested in the proceedings, I was always invested in Natalie Portman’s performance. She’s consistently convincing, even when the script isn’t and brings the required energy to the role. Jon Hamm is perfectly cast, completely charming and turns in a satisfying performance doing well what’s required of him. The film boasts of some very intriguing stylistic choices, the centerpiece being changing aspect ratios to convey different tones and states of mind through the story.
Lucy in the Sky should have worked better with its promising premise, solid performances, and stylistic boldness. Unfortunately, it’s completely undone by an unengaging and confusing screenplay that never warrants any investment.
Lucy in the Sky Trailer